(Continued from the Source Stone Tavern)
"You're staying here?" Jade asked her uncle as they walked up to the Driftwood Tavern in the Blacklake District of Neverwinter.
"Sort of..." Kyrin replied rather cryptically as he opened the door for her and Debeers. As they passed through the main tavern room, Jade was quite shocked at to just how different this "tavern" was compared to the Source Stone. First of all, the entire tavern was chock full of what other people would call "antiques" or "relics" but it was basically all old junk to Jade. The second thing that was so shocking about the place was the quiet atmosphere. [This was more a library than a tavern, ] Jade thought. [A good place for talking I suppose, ] she also thought as they walked up the stairs to the second floor. The three of them walked down a hallway and stopped at one of the the non-descript doors. Kyrin softly knocked on the door and called out, "It's us, we're all here." Jade was extremely curious to just what was going on when the door opened up revealing a moderate sized room decorated with a simple bed, a round table with a few chairs, a dresser and a full length mirror on the wall. A bit nicer than her room back at the Source Stone Tavern but not by much. Kyrin quickly ushered Jade into the room without another word and a confused Debeers followed in after them. As soon as the door closed, Jade turned around to see who had opened the door for them and immediately drew her blades!
"YOU!!!" she vehemently exclaimed as she saw the elven shade close the door and rushed straight at her. But Jade never reached Ar'elandi as her uncle Kyrin suddenly jumped in between them and stopped Jade's mad rush.
"Uncle!" she screamed out loud, "do you know what she is? What she's done?" Jade tried to flailingly force her way around her uncle only to be further restrained by Debeers as well. "How did you erase that marking spell I placed on your sorry hide?" she shouted. The dwarf had absolutely no clue what was going on but, as usual, he supported whatever crazy, elf-brained plan Kyrin was obviously trying to hatch. "I told you what I would do to you if you came seeking revenge on me, " Jade continued to shout as Debeers dragged her off to the other side of the room. Suddenly, there was a more forceful knocking at the door. Moriera pulled on the hood of her cloak and opened the door a crack. It was a pair of house guards led by Madame Rosene herself who asked if everything was all right. Ar'elandi quietly assured them all was well, perhaps a little over-spirited but well and closed the door.
Kyrin slightly nodded to Ar'elandi who quietly sat down on the bed and walked towards the other side of the room to Debeers and a livid Jade who was still brandishing her blades and staring daggers at Ar'elandi. He looked into those blazing eyes of gold-flecked green on the face he had know for well over a hundred years, but looked so chillingly foreign now that it was twisted with sheer rage. Kyrin sighed. [This is not going to be easy] he thought.
"I do believe I owe the two of you an explanation..." he began.
"No disrespect, uncle" Jade began a short while later, "but, ARE YOU CRAZY?!" "You removed my marking spell?" "And why should we... I... help her... it?" she stammered with her arms folded across her chest.
Kyrin was beside himself trying to figure out a way to make this situation work but was extremely glad to see that his fiery niece, at the very least, had sheathed her blades. "Everyone deserves a chance at redemption, niece" he replied. "Ar'elandi has obviously made some bad choices and some really bad choices in her dark past but she is genuinely seeking our help to climb back into the light."
"Your altruistic bladesinger philosophy of trying to save the entire elven world is going to get you killed, uncle" she retorted but instantly regretted saying it when she saw the deeply hurt look that flashed across her uncle's face.
"We have to at least try, " he quietly replied, "given that there are so few of us left."
Images of blue gold-flecked eyes and blonde hair flashed through Jade's mind. She shook her head in disbelief as to what she was about to say. "Fine, " she stated simply. Jade immediately then pointed an accusatory finger at Ar'elandi, "At the first sign of treachery, I will happily and..."
"... mercilessly send me screaming to whatever pit of despair we shades call an afterlife, yes?" Ar'elandi finished for her with a tiny wry smile. "I sincerely come seeking your help and not revenge."
"Fine, " Jade answered flippantly, "let's see that riddle scroll of your's then."
The group gathered by the table in the room.
"We've been able to decipher some of the lines, " Kyrin spoke up as he brought another rolled piece of parchment to the table as Jade started reading the riddle scroll. He unfolded a map of Neverwinter and pointed to the Neverdeath Graveyard. "That has to be the place of the dead where people of Neverwinter have shed their tears for, " he deduced.
"The green haired and gold eyed ghost obviously refers to Jade, " Debeers piped up as he read from behind her. "You definitely don't like Ar'elandi, " he jokingly added but immediately stopped smiling and cleared his throat when he received the iciest of stares from the still irate elf maiden. "What about this evil key?" he asked trying to change the subject.
"That's got to be the Mhaorkiira you were sent to retrieve, " Kyrin stated looking at Jade, "where is it?"
Jade reached into her belt pouch and pulled out a significantly smaller magically shielded bag and tossed it to her uncle Kyrin. "Happy to be rid of that cursed trinket, " she stated and went back to reading the scroll.
Kyrin caught the bag in his right hand, took the pulsing blood red gem out, briefly inspected it and returned it to the containment pouch. "Evil key indeed, " he muttered. "Now this shadow crown, " he stated as he turned to Ar'elandi. "What can you tell us about this as you are our resident expert on shadow magic?"
Ar'elandi thought for a second. "As the stories go, centuries ago and long before the rise of the shadowy empire of the Netherese, a family of mages residing near Neverwinter tried to tap into the shadow plane to fuel their ambitions for power. After many failed experiments, they finally succeeded in enslaving a foul denizen from the shadow plane and bound it to a crown of black iron. Through the crown, they were able to draw upon the foul creature's shadow essence and greatly increase their already impressive arcane powers. But as things go with evil beings, sharing one crown was pretty much impossible and the mages ended up killing one another to be the sole possessor of the crown. After the Spellplague hit, the shadowmage as he came to be called, was never seen again and the crown was assumed lost or nonfunctional in the days that followed when magic greatly faultered. Nowadays with magic stabilizing, it's safe to assume the crown is working again, assuming that it did ever stop functioning. One of the goals of the advancing Netherese forces is to seek out and recover the crown as it is believed to be hidden in or somewhere near Neverwinter. The graveyard?" Ar'elandi looked over to Kyrin who nodded in agreement.
"What is this crown supposed to do?" Debeers asked looking at the map of Neverwinter.
"In the hands of a normal person, it is rumored to bestow the powers of a shade upon them without the painful conversion process, " Ar'elandi involutarily shuddered and continued, "and even more amazing is the rumor that it grants them the ability to cast shadow magic even if they aren't a mage. In the hand of a shade or a shade who is a mage, their powers would be increased to unfathomable heights."
Jade looked straight at Ar'elandi. "and you would give all that power up just to become a normal elf again?" she asked suspiciously.
"I hate what I have become possibly more than the amount of hate you feel towards me, " Ar'elandi replied without hesitation and matched Jade's intense stare, "I would give anything to feel the warm of the sun and the magic of being one of the Tel'Quessir again. The two angrily and silently locked eyes.
"Okay then, unless there are any objections, " Kyrin stated trying break the tension in the room and bring focus back to the group, "I suggest we break for tonight, get some rest and fully gear up for tomorrow. Main entrance to the graveyard at dawn, everyone agreed?" he looked around the table.
"Agreed, " two voices stated and everyone looked at Jade who had put the scroll back on the table, folded her arms again, pursed her lips and shut her eyes.
"Fine, fine, fine, AGREED!" she exasperatedly stated as she waved her arms in annoyance and headed straight for the door. She pretended not to hear the sincere "thank you" that Ar'elandi called out to her as she left the room.
"This is such a huge waste of time!" Jade complained to herself and to whatever god or goddess happened to be listening to her whine as she looked out over the graveyard which was incredibly spooky even in the late morning light. She saw hundreds if not thousands of cracked headstones interspersed with dozens of dilapidated mausoleums and hundreds of crumbling statues, often overgrown with withered grasses and weeds. Consisting of two, roughly square city sections of Neverwinter, the Neverdeath Graveyard was far larger than any in the group had imagined. To find a crown in this crumbling expanse was like trying to locate the proverbial sewing implement in the dried grass pile. "Are we to dig up ever grave in sight to find this piece of tin?" she continued to loudly complain as she passed between a cracked and crumbling statue of an angel and a tall white marble head stone. Jade heard something crashing through the bushes to her right and drew her shortswords just an animated skeleton rushed up at her through the brush! She dodge back behind the angel statue as the skeleton slashed at her with its rusty broadsword which got lodged in the crumbling marble. Jade smooth whipped around the broken statue and cleanly slashed off the skeleten's skull with a sweeping cut of Hyarya. She kick frustrating kicked the detached skull for good measure but felt little comfort as she watched it sail away. This was the fifth undead creature she had personally encountered in the last few hours that the group had spent searching this evil place. The fact that the restless dead were walking during daylight hours did not bode well.
The group reunited at mid-day hours later at the midpoint between the two sections of the graveyard. Jade wasn't the only one to encounter the living dead as everyone recounted their individual fruitless searches and more than frequent bouts with the living dead. "This is getting us nowhere, " Jade stated and was met with grumbling agreement, "where is that riddle scroll? There's got to be something else there. Something we missed." Kyrin unbuckled the black scroll case at his hip, pulled out the rolled parchment and handed it Jade. She unrolled it and started pouring over the black writing again as everyone else sat down and broke out some rations except for Ar'elandi who elected to stand guard.
"Eat, niece" Kyrin called out as he threw an apple into the air next to the elven maiden who had laid out the scroll on a nearby sarcophagus. She caught it with her left hand without apparently looking, bit into the fruit and chewed noisily as she softly mumbled the lines of the riddle. "Hm..." Jade suddenly intoned and everyone quickly gathered around the sarcophagus. She pointed towards the scroll near the end of the eighth line of the riddle and looked up at everyone around her. "Why is the 'B' capitalized here?" she asked barely able to stem the excitement in her voice.
Ar'elandi looked at Kyrin, shook her head, and shrugged her shoulders.
"Because it's important?" Debeers offered with a look of puzzlement.
"Because it's a name..." Jade replied with an sly grin.
Several hours later, Ar'elandi and the rest of the group were gathered in front of a mausoleum in the waning light of the late afternoon sun. The old brown stone structure before them was not unlike the dozens they had previously and quite laboriously investigated except...
"Ebonfeuer..." She heard Kyrin read out loud off of a carving over the archway of the darkened entrance to the mausoleum. "Which in Thorass or Archaic Common means..."
"Black-fire, " he and Jade said together as they smiled at each other. "Well done, niece" he added hugging her shoulders with his arm wrapped around her, "well done indeed."
Ar'elandi watched the interaction between the two elves intently. She was genuinely grateful for their offer of assistance but could not help but be incredibly jealous of the loving familial bond that Jade and Kyrin shared. It was something she had not felt in a very, very long time.
Ar'elandi suddenly felt a cold, heavy hand upon her left shoulder! She drew her dagger with her right hand, spun in place to her left and... nearly cut off the right hand of Debeers. Ar'elandi's dagger skipped off Debeers armored gauntlet with a spark. She started deeply apologizing to the dwarf who waved it off. "Just checking to make sure you are okay, " he replied with a wary smile. Ar'elandi felt incredibly sheepish that she had allowed her loneliness to dullen her sense of martial vigilance to "mind her surroundings" to the point that a dwarf in full plate armor was able to sneak up on her.
Ar'elandi impatiently crossed in front of the two elves, walked silently up the entrance of mausoleum and noticed there was a heavy iron gate covered in rust just inside the entrance. She pushed on it hard and found it to be tightly locked. Ar'elandi turned back to Jade. "Well, do your thing, rogue..." she stated with a challenging edge in her voice and waited impatiently.
Jade narrowed her eyes dangerously. [Who was she to be ordering me around?] the elven rogue thought to herself. Jade knew she could easily pick the lock but she didn't want to give the elven shade the sense of satisfaction of bossing her around. She reached into a pouch, retrieved a stopped bottle and defiantly threw it into the air in front of the elven shade who caught it in her right hand. "Do it yourself, shade, " she retorted, "black dragon acid." "Be careful or it might just melt off those pretty liitle grey hands of yours, " Jade added, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
Ar'elandi dropped a few drops of acid onto the lock of the gate which instantly gave off a loud hiss as the acid easily ate threw the old rusted metal. She restoppered the bottle and gave the gate another hard push and it swung inward with a loud grating creak. "That was easy, " she turned back to Jade and locked her ashen grey eyes with the elven rogue's eyes of gold-flecked green, "makes me wonder why we really need you on this quest."
Kyrin, the self-appointed diplomat of the group, once again stepped in between the two extremely dangerous elven maidens. "Okay, ladies... ladies... let's do this!" he exclaimed trying to refocus the group again and started to step forward to enter the dark entrance to the mausoleum when Jade grabbed him from behind by the elbow.
"Best to let the rogue take point, or have you forgotten basic dungeon delving protocol?" Jade teased him, her anger momentarily forgotten, as she passed him by, ignored Ar'elandi completely, and slowly entered the dark archway...
(To be continued...)
[ooc/ In the interest of time and to avoid being repetitive, we will assume that our four protagonists through great skill, perserverance, and sheer dumb luck have made it (mostly unscathed) through all but the last encounter in the module. Details of the module to follow in another post as it contains spoilers in the background details. We catch up with our heros and heroines at the final encounter...
"Master! Master!" Allia screamed as the female vampire burst through the gilded double doors leading to the inner sanctum of the Ebonfeuer mausoleum, "intruders have breached the crypt!" She ran up to the withered and decayed mage dressed in dusty and shredded black robes and knelt before him. "They are incredibly powerful and right behind me!" she continued out of breath.
"Right you are!" a melodic voice shouted from just outside of the double doors.
Allia turned turned on her knees just in time to catch two jet black arrows that embedded themselves straight into her unbeating heart. She fell to the floor writhing in pain, instantly burst into flames, and left behind a humanoid-like shaped pile of smoking, smoldering ash.
The shadowlich's malevolent red eyes blazed in anger as he watched his favorite thrall disappear in a puff of smoke. He looked out across the room as Ar'elandi, Jade, Kyrin and Debeers rushed into the room and gathered just inside of the door with their weapons drawn and spells at the ready. The room was once lavishly decorated with rich red pillows, drapery, wonderful works of art on the walls with piles of shiny money and gems laying around, but, like its main occupant, the room and all within it had decayed over the centuries to reveal drab blood color shredded cloth decor, spiderwebs as far as the eye can see, dusty piles of tanished silver and lack luster gems. In the center sat the withered form of a mage with wisps of black shadowy magic swirling from his body. He appeared like a macabre decayed statue of a man sitting on a throne of black marble save for the tell-tale red points of light that served as his eyes signifying his lichdom. On his head sat the Crown of Shadows which seemed to absorb the meager ambient light in the room thrown off by the few lit torches on the sconces in the corners of the room.
"You've come seeking the Crown of Shadows?" the shadowlich hissed with a sepulchral echo in his voice as he rose from his black throne. "All you will find is death here, "he added as black and grey motes of eldritch energy coalesced around him. "And then will you serve me as I destroy the world that gave birth to you...."
Ar'elandi gasped when her eyes fell upon the crown. As a being a shadow, she was intune with the magic that emanated from the cold iron object of power and intoxicating waves of invisible shadow magic washed over her, calling to her, seducing her with promises of eternal glory, limitless riches, cold revenge against those who have wronged her and power beyond her imagination. She felt like she was falling, falling, falling uncontrollably through an immense abyss with no bottom in sight.
And then she was falling as she was knocked 10 feet across the room when the shadowlich's concussive fireball ignited right next to her and the rest of the party. She picked herself painfully off of the floor and whipped off the remains of the cloak she had received from Madame Zazu which had taken the brunt of the damage from the miniature fireball. Ar'elandi saw Kyrin and Debeers pick themselves up as well and were slowly maneuvering themselves to flank the shadowlich from the right. She also spotted Jade slinking from shadow to shadow on the left side of the room trying to get a better angle of attack on the shadowlich as well. "Not bad for a non-shade, " she mused with a wry smile as only a living shadow could have spotted the stealthy rogue's progress from across the room. The elven shade nocked another jet black arrow to her beloved shortbow and proceeded to shoot as many arrows as she could at the shadowlich. She wasn't surprise when all of them were deflected by the shadowlich's stoneskin spell, but knew the spell could only repell just so much as she continued the stream of jet black streaks of death towards the shadowlich.
Debeers position himself in front of the shadowlich and raised his holy symbol. "I smite thee with Moradin's mighty lance of light!" he shouted as a burning white beam of light erupted from the hammer and anvil medallion and stuck the shadowlich in the chest. The shadowlich fell back a few steps with his chest still smoldering, pointed his left hand at Debeers and hissed, "marfedelom civip!" (death frost!) The cone of cold slammed into the dwarf and he fell like a rock on to the stone floor with a huge clank and his frost covered body no longer moved.
"NO!" Kyrin screamed as he rushed straight towards the shadowlich. <Quarlani nikyme!> (soul daggers!) he shouted thrusting his clench left fist at the shadowlich. Five glowing crimson balls of magic appear around Kyrin's fist and streaked towards the shadowlich only to vanish a few inches from his body.
The shadowlich laughed and exclaimed, "kluchud di sjachi!" (spawn of shadows!) A large translucent humanoid form coalesced behind the shadowlich, sprouted huge bat like wings and flew straight at Kyrin! It slammed him fully in the chest and knocked him clear across the room where he hit the wall with a loud sickening "thud" and slid out of sight behind a mountain of broken earthen pottery.
Jade saw both her uncle Kyrin and Debeers easily taken out of the fight by the shadowlich and a cold rage filled her as she positioned herself behind the foul undead creature. She saw one of Ar'elandi's arrows clip the left shoulder of the shadowlich and knew that his stoneskin spell had finally ended. She was about to draw her shortswords and strike when the shadowlich suddenly turned around and looked at her with red blazing eyes full of evil contempt. The shadowlich was also a being of living shadows and had easily spotted the mortal elven rogue as she tried to move stealthily across the room.
"Marfedelom cha'sid!" (Death hand!) the shadowlich shouted and the elven rogue found herself up in the air and being choked to death again by glowing blue eldritch tendrils of magic. [Does every evil being know this spell?...] was the last thought passing through Jade's mind before she blacked out.
Ar'elandi stopped firing her arrows as soon as she saw the Jade had been captured by the shadowlich, who turned towards her as the elven rogue's body floated lifelessly in the air between them.
"Why do you fight me? " the shadowlich asked as he approached the elven shade, "I know what you are and felt you long before you entered this place. Your 'friends' will be dead soon if they are not already. What is the point of continually defying me? I know what powers you possess, the potential you have. Join with me, serve me as my new thrall and lead my new armies to destroy the world that would condemn those like you and me."
The waves of shadow magic emanating from the crown were incredibly intoxicating to Ar'elandi now that she was in such close proximity to the shadowlich and his words dripped like honey off of his decayed dried lips. Ar'elandi fell to her knees in a trance, dropped her shortbow with a clatter to the floor, and looked up as the foul undead creature towered over her. "Swear allegiance to me, serve me faithfully, and I will show you how to wield true shadow magic..." the shadowlich promised extending his hand towards the kneeling elven shade.
"Yes master..." Ar'elandi started to say when a glass stoppered bottle fell into her hand from the long sleeve of her tunic. "But I'd rather serve you THIS!" she shouted as she unstopped the bottle of black dragon acid and emptied the contents of the bottle into the shadowlich's face and chest! The foul undead creature shrieked in pain and fell backwards as Ar'elandi dodged to the right to avoid any splashed back drops of acid.
With the shadowlich's concentration broken, Jade was suddenly let go from the spell and fell to the floor in a heap. As she hit the cold stone floor, she was instantly jarred awake and chokingly took in huge gulps of air. She saw the writhing, smoking pile of the shadowlich on the ground, smelled the heavy scent of acid in the air and realized what Ar'elandi had did with her bottle of black dragon acid. "Brilliant!" she muttered with genuine appreciation and woozily got on her feet and headed towards Ar'elandi and the shadowlich. Jade drew Hyarya and Forya and shouted, "catch!" as she threw Hyarya spinning into the air in front of Ar'elandi who caught it in both of her little grey hands as elven shade was getting up off of the floor. They both then charged the shadowlich, who had gotten back on to his knees, and stabbed him through the chest with both enchanted shortswords from both flanks of the foul undead creature. The shadowlich screamed one final scream and completely crumbled to dust; bones, clothing, and everything else except for the black iron Crown of Shadows which fell to the ground in a loud clanking noise.
Both elven maidens sat on the ground thoroughly exhausted and did not speak a word for several heartbeats as each maiden was contemplating the newly found respect that each had developed for the other.
"Uncle Kyrin! " Jade suddenly called out as Ar'elandi simultaneously called out, "Debeers!" Each ran to different areas of the room and gently dragged their respective prone bodies back to the center of the room. Kyrin had suffered a broken arm but was breathing steadily as Jade checked him over. Ar'elandi could not listen for a heartbeat through all of the dwarf's massive armor, so she held the blade of a dagger under Debeer's nose and was overjoyed when she saw the condensation and knew the dwarf still lived. Jade passed Ar'elandi a metal vial from her belt pouch and the both of them forced the contents down the respective gullets of their unconscious patients.
It wasn't long before Debeers woke up with a loud snort. He satup, gave the room a bleary-eyed look and saw Jade and Ar'elandi working on making a splint on one of Kyrin's arms who was also sitting on the ground and looked highly comfortable being the center of attention of two attractive elven maidens.
"Well!" Kyrin exclaimed, "look who decided to join the ranks of the living."
Debeers rubbed the back of his head. "I feel like I just went through a bad cask of ale, possibly two" he sheepishly answered, "what did I miss?"
Ar'elandi and Jade looked impishly at each other and laughed. They alternated between phrases as they said together, "Oh we just; killed a shadowlich; probably save Neverwinter if not all of Faerun; and saved the skins of you two brave adventurers; that's all... " and laughed some more as Debeers scratched his head and Kyrin shook his in disbelief.
The group gathered around the big pile of dust in the center of the room and peered at the black iron crown that sat in the middle of it.
"Well, " Jade said, breaking the silence, "it must be pretty powerful as it survived the black dragon acid. She pulled a water flask from her magical bag of holding and was about to dump it on the crown just in case to wash away an remnants of the acid when Debeers shouted, "Wait!" and started rummaging throught his own backpack and produced a few empty vials. He bent over and started scooping up the dusty remains off of the floor. "Lich dust is a very rare and valuable magical component, " he explained to all the confused stares. "And dust from a shadowlich is incredibly rare as I have never even heard of such a foul beast!" he added with great excitement. After he was done collecting his "samples." Jade kept her disgust in check and poured water from her flask all over the crown. She then motioned Ar'elandi to pick it up and washed the remaining traces of shadowlich dust off of the metal crown.
Ar'elandi felt like she was holding onto the business end of a lightning bolt when she picked up the Crown of Shadows. The waves of intoxicating magic were at their highest level now that she was in physical contact with the object. She was sorely tempted to just place the crown on her head and fully embrace its shadowy power but deep inside she knew what she really wanted.
Jade looked at Ar'elandi as the elven shade stood back up. "You okay," she tentatively asked.
The elven shade nodded. "How do we mate this thing with your evil elven gem?" she asked Kyrin who produced the small black containment bag.
"How about just touching the two together?" Debeers suggested pointing to the large black gem that was the center stone in the crown and roughly the same size as the Mhaorkiira.
"Might as well give it a go, " Kyrin added as he up ended the bag into Ar'elandi's outstretched hand. The pulsing red gem dropped into her little grey hand.
Ar'elandi held her breath, as did everyone else in the room. She clutched the Crown of Shadows in her left hand and held the Mhaorkiira in between her thumb and index finger on her right. Ar'elandi touched the two gems and felt an instant surge of power as a negative energy burst flashed before her eyes.
To Jade it felt like witnessing the polar opposite of being flashed with a brilliant white light. That was the only way she could explain what just happened.
Ar'elandi watched as it seem like the two gems where trading places as the red pulsating coloration was slowly emptying out of the Mhaorkiira in her right hand and filling the jewel in the Crown of Shadows.
"Amazing..." the elven shade barely heard someone whisper, but she could not tell who because of her level of focus upon the two gems.
When all of the pulsing red energy had left the Mhaorkiira, Ar'elandi did not know what to do with the loose gem and reflexively put the "empty" gem into the pouch at her belt. She held the now red pulsating crown with both hands and instantly realized it felt greatly different than before. No longer was shadow magic emananting from it. No, it seemed like it was drawing shadow magic into itself as if the addition of the power of the Mhaorkiira had somehow reversed the polarity of the object. Ar'elandi looked back up fearfully at the group not sure of herself.
Kyrin encouragingly mimed the placing of a object on his head and gestured to Ar'elandi to indicate it was her turn.
The elven shade closed her eyes and placed the altered crown on the top of her and released her hands. The cold shivers that have wracked her body since the day she was converted to a shade began to slowly decrease in intensity. Ar'elandi opened her eyes and looked down on to the backs of her hands. At first, she thought it was only a trick of her eyes in the meager torchlight of the room, but subtly the ashen grey coloration began to drain out of her fingertips and slowly went past the back of her nail and then the first knuckle on her middle fingers of both hands leaving behind the bronze skin of a gold elf. Ar'elandi was absolutely overjoyed as were her companions as they followed the progress of the line of coloration. Soon it was past the middle of the backs of her hands, then her wrists, and eventually went into the longsleeves of her tunic. Debeers clanked up and presented Ar'elandi with the inside surface of his shield which was mirror polished. Ar'elandi fearfully looked down into a mirror for the first time in over 30 years and saw the awestruck face of a gold elf maiden staring back at her. The coloration line was well past her fine delicate cheekbones and had reached her ear and rapidly blonding hair.
The entire transformation took about 5 minutes and everyone was grinning ear to ear at its completion, especially Ar'elandi who profusely thanked everyone for their help. She joyfully did a pirouette but suddenly doubled over in excruciting pain and fell to her hands and knees. Something was going terribly wrong and she desperately tried to remove the crown which refused to budge from her head. Everyone rushed to her side and Ar'elandi happened to glance into the mirrored surface of the inside of Debeer's shield again and saw a small wrinkle appear next to her right eye and then another and then another. Her golden hair started silvering where it was in contact with the now rapidly pulsing crown. She quickly realized it was now draining her lifeforce away!
Everyone took a turn to desperately pull at the red glowing pulsating crown but it severely burned each and everyone of them then as they touched it. When they looked down at their finger tips, the found them to be intensely wrinkled as the lifeforce was drained from their digits.
The group suddenly heard clapping emanating from the direction of the shadowlich's throne. They turned to see Madame Zazu seductively laying across the throne and evilly smiling. She got up off of the throne still smiling and clapping and approached the party.
"Thank you for ridding me of that "irritation, " she purred as she casually waved a hand at the waterlogged pile of wet dust. "I could have done the job myself, "she stated looking at the finely manicured nails on her right hand. "But it was so much more fun to watch the four of you do the dirty work for me, " she smiled at the shocked group.
"Madame Zazu?" Ar'elandi weakly called up from the floor.
"Oh, poor little shadow..." she called out in mocking tone of false concern. "I did ask you what price you would be willing to pay for the return of your elven soul? To which you answered, 'No price would be too high.' " Madame Zazu answered in a perfect copy of Ar'elandi's melodic voice. "The price of a soul is a life..." she hissed and laughed in mockery of the poor suffering elf.
"Who are you?!" Kyrin asked brandishing his ebony longsword and getting up off of the floor. "And stop what you are doing to her!" he indicated back to Ar'elandi who was writhing on the floor in pain.
"I'm not doing anything to her, " Madame Zazu innocently replied, "she did it to herself." "And as to who I am, " she started to say as her image began to shift. What was once beautiful creamy skin began to rot and peel away. What once was a fine silken gown shredded to coarse flowing rags before the very eyes of the gather group. Madame Zazu's warm brown eyes began take on a menacing red glow as her ears elongated into sharp points. "I am Valindra Shadowmantle and soon I will be the Scourge of Neverwinter!" she shouted when her frightening transformation was complete. "Thank you so much for helping me on my way to utterly destroying this wretched city!"
Debeers had just about heard enough and ran straight at the lich to bash at her with his massive hammer. He skidded just short of Valindra and mightily swung his hammer at her... and promptly fell right through her onto the floor behind the lich.
"Stupid dwarf, " Valindra condescendingly muttered, "this is only a projection as I can hardly be bothered to actually be there to watch your buffoonery."
"Enough!" Kyrin screamed as he leaped beside Ar'elandi's body and wrapped his fingers around the crown. He pulled on the menacing rapidly pulsating crown with more strength than he though was physically possible and pain strickenly wrenched the crown off of Ar'elandi's head! There was a suddenly flash of red that filled the room and Kyrin fell to the floor as the iron crown crumbled to dust. His face was completely withered and sallow. His previously luxurious thick black hair had turned wispy and bleached bone white. And he stared out of dullened blue gold-flecked eyes that would never sparkle again.
Jade heart wrenchingly screamed, dropped straight to the floor and cradled her dead uncle's head in her lap and started crying profusely.
Valindra appeared shocked for a second and then started laughing. "A life sacrificed for another life. How noble..." she said mockingly. "The price for a soul is a life, " she repeated as Ar'elandi wearily raised her head off of the ground, "But I never said it had to be your life..." she added with her voice rising into manical laughter as her image faded away.
Ar'elandi crawled over to the Jade who was still cradling the head of her dead uncle and tried to voice her sympathies for her loss when Jade suddenly and viciously backhanded her! She fell to the floor as Jade hovered over her.
"MY UNCLE IS DEAD AND IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!!!" Jade shouted
"Get up!!!" the elven rogue shouted assuming an unarmed fighting stance.
Moriera woke up in a cold sweat and stared into the sneering ashen grey face of Mordekai surrounded by darkness.
"We leave at dawn for Neverwinter, grey elf" he growled at the elven shade as he turned his back on her and walked out of her tiny room in the Shade Enclave. "Be ready!" Mordekai's voice floated in through the open door, "This is going to be fun..."
"Magelord, you have no idea..." the elven shade muttered matter-of-factly as she quickly put on her leather armor, grabbed her beloved cherry wood shortbow and a quiver of jet black arrows off of a hook on the wall, and hurriedly walked out the door after the magelord. "You have no idea..."
Results 11 to 18 of 18
10-21-2012, 10:55 PM #11
The Price for a Soul Part II: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread...
10-21-2012, 11:01 PM #12
The Watchmen last Watch
The Rain was falling on the cobble streets of Neverwinter .The Autumn cold was setting in, and the rain had come with it .It was another day at the garrison watch for Garion Naysayer ,Garion had just joined the watch a few months ago, his new job seemed better than his other job offer as cleaning horse's stalls.
This was not the life Garion thought he was going to have in the watch. Instead of preserving the the glory of Neverwinter he spent most of his time guarding empty wear-houses by the docks and throwing drunken vagrants and sailors in to the hold.
Today started like any other day, Garion awoke from in his cot in the barracks. Time to report to LT. Parvil, and start my daily rounds; Garion thought to himself. Therefore, he geared up and made his way to the LT. Office. As he approached the room he could see the Shield Crest of Lord Neverember, who was the ?Open Lord of Watersdeep.
Some people say, that the Lord had linage dating back to Lord Nasher Alagondar himself. It was lord Neverember who had brought the watch to Neverwinter when he took the city back from the vile Thay. Bringing back order and safety to the good people of Neverwinter; or at least that?s the garbage that was being spouted in the streets.
As a member of the watch Garion knew better, and he knew it wasn?t his place to question such thing he had a duty to perform, and a vow to keep the protection Neverwinter and its people.
When he entered the room he found the Lt. Speaking with a woman in her early twenties; she was soaked to the bone and appeared to be pleading for help. Garion listened in to conversation. Lt. Parvil said to the lady.
-My lady I would like to help but we are under manned as it is right now.
The woman burst out crying and screaming.
Lord please ! We are good honest people and loyal to Lord Neverember, we pay our taxes. People are going missing; my brother who is dear to my heart is one of the missing people. The Gods help me if something horrible has happened to him.
She just began to sob and whimper.
The Lt. was a hard stern man, but for a brief moment his eyes soften as he looked in to the corner where Corporal Drogan sat; Drogan was a bear of a man with grizzled hair an dark sunken eyes.
-What do you think Drogan?.
The LT asked.
-People go missing all the time .
Was Drogans reply. The Lt. gave Drogan a hard stern look, Drogan snorted, and reply
-Sounds like wolves or highway men could be the guilty party. That would be my guess LT.
To what the Lt with a serious look said
-Yes very well then, you Corporal shall assemble a squad find the villains and slay them.
You there Watchmen!
Garion stood at attention
-You will go with Drogan.
The Lt shouted in a laud voice.
-Me sir ?
-Are your ears full mud boy?
-No sir I stand ready to serve Neverwinter.
Drogan stood up and his imposing figure hovered above Garion. At Drogans side there was a massive two handed barbed battle axe with a spike at the end of the shaft. Drogan looked down at Garion and scowled.
-Whats your name Boy?
-Garion Sir, my name is Garion, Sir. You know how to use that sword on your belt? That was my father's sword .I don?t care if your grandmother gave it to you -Drogan retorted- Can you use it ?
-Yes my father taught me Sir.
Have you ever killed a man Son??
No sir I mostly break up fights and throw drunks in the hold.
Drogan looked over at the LT. ; his expression did not changed, and once more, he looked back at Garion saying
-All right greenhorn saddle my horse and grab your gear. We leave within the hour. I want to be there by nightfall.
Garion saluted him and with a quick about face bounded out of the door. Last thing he heard, as he walked out, was the woman crying.
-Thank you Lord thank you Torm bless you.
The woman shouted.
Garion Ran to his locker grabbed the supplies he would need for the trip. They were headed North and it was raining; so he would need his cloak, a lot good that would do him with the rain coming down as hard as it was. He thought to himself. He threw his pack on his back and wrapped the cloak around him.
Garion arrived at the stable saying
-You there, stable-boy, get Corporal Drogans gelding ready?.
The boy answered.
He brought the horse out of the stable. The horse was unique, it had a beautiful tan color with long white mane running down its neck. The boy bridled and saddled the horse an gave me the reins. Then he stuck his hand out. I threw him coin and headed for the front gate. This better be good Garion thought I hate to put my life in danger for no apparent reason. When Garion got to the front gate, Drogan was hailing at him
-Come on greenhorn, we don't have all day; lets get moving.
The men were waiting around, some of them he noticed from the Garrison there was
Thackeray Longsdale a tall lanky man with lean muscles and leathery skin; a fighting man who carried a long boar spear With a kryss dagger at his side.
Varth Hogarth, a short stalky man, to him the weapon of choice was the crossbow and a short sword. Additionally, there was Baldric Alagonder he was of medium build and height; the man had hands like clubs, and he was carrying a mace and buckler.
I carried a long sword that my father gave me. It looked like any other long sword except for the pommel which was silver and rounded with the symbol of a balance sitting on a hammer.
The woman from the Lt. Office was also at the gate. We all marched out the front gate with Drogan taking front and Varth taking the rear. The rain was coming down hard; it was going to be a long trip to New Oak Village. After hours of walking ours clothes and armor were soaked to the skin; some areas of the ground were flooded, so we were up to our boot's heels in mud. There wasn?t much conversation going on; every one was mostly concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.
I managed to talk to the young lady from the village her name was Sheala Green-Oak. She lived with her nan; they were the town's seamstress. She never knew her mother and her father had died in the war. Sad story really for such beautiful young lady with a sweet pure voice. I asked her about her brother. He had just come back from Watersdeep. He was studying with the mages at that city. He came back to check on her, to see if she was OK
-What happened the night he disappeared?
I asked her.
-Apparently he went for a walk he said that he would be right back an never returned.
Baldric yelled out
-Look! over there wolves to the East of us.
We saw a small pack of wolves.
-Do you think those could be our quarry? Baldric Asked
-Look there, heading South they wouldn?t leave a food supply.
-What does that mean? I asked .
The men all looked at each other knowing the wolves were not the one stealing people, and kept marching as the Sun was setting we finally reached New Oak an found the local Inn.
Said one of the men
-Some warm ale and hot fire?.
-Get your belly?s full and a good night sleep men. Drogan shouted out .
Sheala said she was going to head home and check in on her nans; she would see us in the morning.
We entered the Tavern-Inn. The place was dimly lit; the local villagers were all chattering amongst themselves. When they saw us enter every one went quite. Drogan walked up to the man standing behind the bar threw a bag of coins down, and with a stern voice told the man to get us rooms,food and drink. The man pointed to a couple of women an they ran off, to fulfill Drogan's orders. Me and the me and the troops found a place close to the fire place and sat down; some people sitting near by got up and left .
Varth shouted out
-By the Gods!, can we get a drink over here?.
Some one answered from the back kitchen.
A voice came from the other end of the room saying
-So are you the blokes from Neverwinter that are going to help us fight off these goblins? Another man said
-There is no Goblins; it be daemons they come in the night steal people and devour there souls. Gods help us all!
Then an older man retorted
-Fools I told you, it was the witch that lives in the woods...
-The witch the Inn's patrons murmured.
Drogan Abruptly cut in
-What can you tell me about this Witch.?
An older man chimed
-She lives out in the forest three hours from here, and there have been plenty of story?s about animal sacrifices to her dark God and apparently now she needs human sacrifices to please the evil ones thirst.
I could hear the sound of people in the back ground pleading,
-Gods protect us!
Drogan asked the elderly gentleman.
-What might your name be good man?
-William Waverly he replied.
He was ad thin tall person with wiry hair and a ornate cloak, that made him look like a well to do aristocrat.
-We will check that evil witch out.
Drogan shouted; while the men started to cheer. Some one at the Inn yelled out
-Send that evil witch back to the nine hells.
Well after all the excitement was over, we all turned in to sleep. Everyone one passed out; it had been a long day and just needed to sleep. Next morning. We awoke to the sound of Drogan booming voice
-Come on you laggards out of bed!
Thackeray wasn't in the room; he must of already gotten up, we all geared up and got ready for what the day had to throw at us. Every one reached the front room where Drogan was sitting down eating breakfast Varth asked'
-We going to get breakfast?
-If you had gotten up early...
Just then Thackeray walked in yelling
-Found one peasant that can lead us to the witch. He said
The peasant who was poorly dress followed behind him .
-He says he knows the way to the witches cabin in the woods.
We all shuffled out the front door; Drogans horse was there waiting for him he jumped up on the horse -All right lads lets move out. He dictated.
We headed deep in to the forest; at least it wasn't raining. The sky was over cast. All the trees had the colors of autumn, the reds and yellows were everywhere, there was a thick fog in the air, the leaves on the ground were damp, and wet the ferns were covered by the morning dew. There were parts where the sun was breaking thru giving the area a golden hew. We walked on for Couple hours; when we came upon a cabin with a giant oak tree behind it, an a stream flowing several yards from it. The cabin itself was quaint in appearance and ran down; their were huge vines that looked as if they had grown into the cabin. The front door opened. Drogan halted the troops. An old crone with long white hair and raged clothes appeared from the opening of the door, and with a low creaky voice she utter
-Who comes to my home be he friend? or be he foe ? Let his presence be Known...
A white film glazed over the woman?s eyes she appeared to be blind.
-I?m Corporal Drogan of Neverwinter Watch and wish to speak to you.
-Along way to travel for conversation soldier but I will hear your words two may enter but the rest can stay. The raspy voice replied
Drogan gestured to Thackeray as to come over
-Not that one The Crone exclaimed!' Him she pointed to me.
-He may be a guest in my home
Drogan got off his horse an walked over to me whispering in my ear.
-If she offers you food or drink refuse, be ready to strike at any moment. Understand?
I just nodded.
Varth came over
-I don't like this one bit!
-If there any sings of trouble you know what to do. Drogan whispered
-Let us be on with it.
-Drogan said to Garion. We entered the cabin, the floor creaked under the pressure of our feet; the smell of damp rotten wood filled the air and something else which we never smelled before. Vines indeed had grown in to the house; they were every where running thru the rafter and floor boards -Come in come in The Crone beckon.
So we came further in to the shack; then an awful heat hit us. It was hot in here, and it made the place feel humid as if a steam was floating all over. There was no fire burning that I could see, only a strange warmth that filled me. There was a chair and a table set against a wall near the end of the house The crone sat down the door was still open. Drogan looked around alert ready, I felt uneasy my stomach tingling.
-People say you are a witch I muttered.
Drogan gave me a sharp look.
-Is that what they say about me.
The crone responded, with an evil smile on her face.
-Are you a witch? I asked trying to be polite about it.
-Not as such but I?m of the forest Garion Naysayer.
My mind swirled and my stomach sank with fear. How did she know my name? I wondered.
-We are here. ..
-I know why your here, Drogan Wolfsbane You are of the Shadow Wolfs' clan the man who would have been chief.
Drogans Axe leaped off his back and into his hands; At the same time the front door to the cabin slammed shut. The cabin began to groan as the vines twisted convulsing the ground, which shook with a deep tremor I froze, as a deep fear overwhelmed me. Drogan moved forward to strike the crone, as he did two vines came from underneath the floorboards and grabed his legs another from the rafters snatched the axe right out of his hands.
-Now look-said The Crone- I do not like rude guests who come disturb my home. If you have questions I have answers. I could hear the men screaming outside .
-So if you are willing to be good boys, I will give you what you seek for a price. The crone stated
By this time Drogan and I had both gone pale.
Drogan responded. As every thing went silent and calm, the vines let their grip on Drogan go.
-What do you want? Drogan asked.
-Three gold pieces there is a pretty dress in town that I want to buy.
Drogan aforesaid throwing three gold pieces on the table.
-What about my men? He continued.
-They are unharmed, I assure you; there just a little tangled up at the moment she cackled to her self. You are here looking for the missing people who's lives have been taken from them. There is a great evil North of here in the mountains; a shadow.
-How will we know where to find it? I asked.
-It will find you, and you will follow it . Now leave! She demanded
Drogans axe fell to the ground, as she spoke
-All you'll need is Wolfsbane. She whispered
Drogan and I turned around and headed for the door. The Crone noticed the pommel of Garions Sword
-You there boy...
The crone grabbed his arm spinning him around with unnatural strength. Garion just gazed as she pulled the two amulets which hanged from her neck. One with the symbol of a gauntlet and the other a dragon's head. She took the one with the symbol of the gauntlet and placed it around my neck
-You will need this in the days to come. She told me looking straight onto my eyes.
Drogan was Standing by the door Garion followed behind; a sense of relief fell over me as the door shut behind us. I looked over to Drogan.
-I?m sorry I froze in there.
Drogan just looked back at me saying
-Lad I almost soiled my breaches. Lets just get back to town and away from this place.
-What happen in there?
-That tree behind the house came to life and vines had held of us? then they just let go.
-Did you kill the witch? He continued saying.
-Were done here lets head back to town! Drogan ordered without answering the question. All the men nodded in agreement.
-Drogan do you think she was telling the truth?
-I don?t know. Drogan replied
-But shes not the one were looking for.
-How can ya say that? I asked
-We wouldn't be having this conversation greenhorn Drogan replied. He jumped up on his horse -Lets ride out! He shouted
We hurriedly left the area and headed for the town. It was later in the day when we got back . Sheala's nan, rushed out of the Inn.
-Shes been taken! Shes been taken!
Garion rushed to her side
-Calm down fair lady, calm down and tell us what has happened.
-It was her brother, he came back but it wasn't him, some thing was wrong with him. He cast some spell on Sheala and she passed out and fell . Then I saw her raise from the floor held their in mid air by some magic spell. I went to stop him but some force threw me back and knocked me out last thing I herd was tonight every thing would change.
Garion looked back at the men, shouting
-Varth! look lad fighting warlocks is above our pay grade that sort thing is for wizards and such?. We took an oath preserve and protect the people Garion retorted.
-Heroes get killed soldiers live to fight another day and I?m Soldier!
Varth replied Garion looked up at Drogan his eyes pleading. Drogan mind was lost in thought then steady him self : Today, men we are Heroes?!
-Thackeray, find me the tracks they should be heading north. Thackeray nodded his head
We'll need torches Baldric said not many hours of Sun light left; lets get what we need and head after the bastards Drogan growled.
-Gods help us.
Varth whisper to him self. Found the trail!
-Thackeray cried out like you said it's heading North.
We marched forward not knowing what doom awaited us. Several hours later dusk began to set in and a unnatural mist followed us with it making visibility next to impossible.
-Lost it Thackeray. let out.
-Lost what? Drogan asked
-The trail can't find the trail its gone this Myst is making every thing hard to see.
-Look over there!
Drogan pointed. Thackeray looked towards where he was pointing
-Good spotting Sir there headed North East.
-How can you tell? I asked
-See that bush over there see how it branches have been broken recently Garion nods yes I see it; good greenhorn you might just learn some thing.
Just in time Baldric said' look pointing towards the horizon , the sun set behind the mountains. What happened next sent chills down all the men's spines a bones, chilling blood curdling howl let lose onto the air echoing through out the valley.
-By the Gods! What in the Nine hells! was what Varth fearfully screamed
-Torches Light The Torches! Everyone at once said.
-Weapons to be ready! The orders were shouted out
-Lets move forward. Keep your nerves men or lose your lives.
The area around us became dark and gloomy the torch light flicker our shadows in the mist.
Then we saw it there in the shadows two dimly lite yellow eyes looking back at us the beast stood as tall as a man an long as a horse it curled back it's lips revealing long dagger sharp teeth. And a deep guttural growl the beast lunged forward towards Drogans gelding the horse recoiled back throwing Drogan off its back knocking the air out of his lungs. Thackeray rushed forward thrusting his spear at the beast it gracefully avoided the attack leaping on to Thackeray throwing him to the ground. As he did Baldric ran and slammed his shield in to the side of the beasts head stunning the creature for a second then Baldric raised his mace to strike. The beast Whirled around and lunged quickly graving Baldrics hand all that was heard is the sound of bone snapping an flesh tearing his hand fell off like butter in the creatures jaws and once where a hand had been was shredded gore and broken bone he let loses a death shrieking Scream.
I watched in horror at the whole scene
Varth let loose a bolt that flew inches from the creature missing it. I shouted and rushed forward swinging my sword wildly just hoping to hit something. The beast jumped back and forth easily avoiding each attack. That gave Varth enough time to reload another bolt he took aim, this time he wasn't going to miss and he didn't the bolt struck home dead center. The beast gave out loud yelp! and turned to run as it did, Drogan axe cleaved half of the animals face off. The creature fell dead to the ground. Varth ran over to Baldric who by this time has crumpled to the ground
-He lost a lot of blood?! Varth yelled out.
Thackeray threw Varth some bandages
-Tie off that wound and wrap it up! Take him back to the village Drogan told him.
-Like hell I will. I?m going with you.
-That's an order watchman here take this its the report of whats happened here make sure the LT. Gets it if we don't return.
Varth just nodded his head
-Yes sir. I would of gone all the way.
Drogan answered. As the three men walked off to face what evil might lie ahead. Varth yells!
-Out for Neverwinter for the watch.
We walked on for about an hour when I saw a strange glow in the distance.
-Do you see it?
-I see it.
Drogan whispered to me. It seems to be coming from that cave over there. We quietly moved closer an unnatural stillness grasped the air when we reached thee mouth of the cave; the smell of death followed. The torches we carried began to take on a green hew. At the same time misshapen and contorted figures began to emerge form the Cave. They looked like men but they were not men. They had rotting flesh and hollowed eyes.
-They know we are here!
Drogan cried out.
-What do we do?
I panicky asked. Drogan Griped his battle axe hard, a rage an anger washed over his face, as if he was about to go berserk; and then he did. Drogan rushed forward the first creature was split in half by the fall of Drogans axe his axe came up another one of the creatures was split in two . I never saw some one move so fast all I could see was the hacking an slashing of gray steel gore and body?s dropping to the ground. Thackery followed behind, decapitating and impaling. I finally found my courage and joined them I slashed at one of the monsters cutting a deep gash in its chest, but creature kept coming latching on me. Cold dead fleshy hands hungering for life I could see out of the corner of my eye more of them coming. They wanted to consume my living flesh, more hands grabbed at me as I struggled to break free. I kept feeling pinches and pressure from them. They were chewing at the leather tunic I was wearing I felt myself being dragged down. Panic and disparity over whelmed my mind and soul. It hit me like the burning of the Sun on a hot Summers day. An eruption from deep within exploded from my body like a flash of white luminescent light filling the night sky. All the creatures fell to the ground lifeless as they should of being. Drogan and Thackeray both looked over stunned at me.
-What just happened? You lite up like the Sun its self!
A liquid warmth settled over me. I could not hear my comrades. A voice sounded inside my head
-Be my Champion!
The voice cry out
-Who are you?
-I am the Hope and Courage of man the light in the Darkness. You do not know me, but you will come know me, as I know you. For all that is just and good, fight with me.
-I swear my allegiance I uttered.
-Say the Oath the voice reverberated.
-Forgive me Lord for I do not know thee oath.'
-You do champion it's in your heart.
I began to speak aloud:
?Salvation may be found through service. Every failure of duty diminishes Torm and every success adds to his Splendor. Strive to maintain law and order. Stand ever alert against corruption. Strike quickly and forcefully against darkness in the hearts of mortals. Bring ,quick death to traitors. Question unjust laws b y suggesting improvement or alternatives, not additional laws. Your Threefold duties are to faith, f amily,and all good beings of Faer?n. The voice said to him my light will be with you in the darkest of places.?
My eyes slammed open.
-You all right lad?
-You have been sitting there mumbling to your self for awhile.
I looked up at Drogan still like in a daze.
-We have to get to the cave before its to late. I noticed that the symbol on the pommel of my sword was now the same as the amulet that the witch gave me. The name Torm whispered like floating in the wind and only I could hear it and feel it in my heart. My companions entered the cave. Torches with green flame lit the way. They followed the trail until we came upon the main chamber where
Sheala Greenoak laid unconscious, upon a stone altar; a young man with a smooth face an slick black hair wearing a long flowing black robe; stood near by with a dagger in his hand.
-Step away from her I shouted at the man. He looked towards us, exclaiming
The three of us advanced with our weapons drawn ready to strike. The warlock intoned an evocation and made hand gesture towards the three of us. We froze right where we stood.
-You see, now you shall witness the return of the great Shadow. You will have the honor of being the first ones he feeds upon. With all my strength I was unable to move but I could talk.
-That's your sister in the name of Torm stop this.
-Do not speak that name in this unholy place The warlock responded
-Sister, sister, yes this is the meat suits sister, yes all is as planned. In the Name of Torm I command you to Stop!
The warlock looked back over at me furious and chanted another invocation and I could no longer speak. While this was going on Sheala had awoken she watched in disbelief at her brothers actions and words.
She screamed out. Her brother turned around to face his eyes were as two void-less orbs. He walked towards her with a dagger in his hand
-It's all right sister he will be here soon he said excitedly. As he raised the dagger above his head.
She threw her right hand out in front of her; as she did three, amethyst colored missiles shot out of her hand striking her brother in the chest. That broke the hold he had on us. The warlock quickly arose as he did a giant metal Kryss plunged in to his chest. The mans body fell to the floor. It was them that Drogan smiled and said.
-Good job! Friends our job is done. Lets all go home.
10-21-2012, 11:30 PM #13
The Crown of Shadows: Module
(Continued from The Price for a Soul...)
The Crown of Shadows...
Author's Notes: This module will be written with mostly 2nd ed. AD&D knowledge as this is the system I am most familiar. I am only vaguely familiar with 4th ed. D&D and will not embarass myself by trying to write about it. DM's feel free to modify based on your needs and understanding of the game.
The days are growing longer in Faerun as Eleint (September) is almost gone and Marpenoth (October). Highharvestide is soon approaching which is heralded by many a tree along the Sword Coast with the shocking changing of colors from the most lush of greens to blazing shades of red, orange and yellow that would make a fire elemental jealous. The trumpeting call of Lord Neverember ten years ago, for heroes and adventurers to come and help take back and rebuild the fabulous city of Neverwinter, the Jewel of the North, has gone far and wide. Many heroes have come to the city of Neverwinter dreaming of vanquishing enemies for Lord and city or for the glory of the god or goddess they worship. Many adventurers have come seeking to unearth lost legendary dweomers to bolster arcane repertoires to levels unimaginable and many have come to simply find fame, self-glory and get stinking filthy rich in the process.
Player Character Motivation:
On the road to Neverwinter, our player characters hear rumors from passing caravans to and from the Jewel of the North about a lost artifact called the Crown of Shadows created hundreds of years ago. The stories tell of an extremely powerful magic item that gives the wearer arcane powers over darkness and shadow. This should particularly interest either a mage or rogue of the party.
As our heroes enter Neverwinter, they see a beautiful and vibrant city, still in the process of healing from the eruption of Mt. Hotenow, but great strides have been made in the last 30 years. The walls of the city stand strong and tall, the shops are bustling with activity as the city's economy steadily grows, and the Hall of Justice, Tyr's former temple and the current seat of power for Lord Neverember, rises above the city as a beacon of hope, law, and order.
Researching the Crown of Shadows:
After settling in, our heroes must do some research about the Crown of Shadows. They have two choices either talk to people and do reseach at the local archives (guilds, temples, Hall of Justice...) or travel to Candlekeep 1000 miles to the south to do their research. The chance of learning something in Neverwinter is greatly reduced as most of the populance is relatively new to the city themselves and most of the records were destroyed in the eruption 30 years ago. The chance of learning something about the Crown of Shadows in Neverwinter is 25% to be checked once per day of investigating. The chances are much improved in the archives of Candlekeep (50% chance to be checked twice a day spent in the archive) but the trip there and back could take months. A mage with teleport capabilities and a familiarity with Candlekeep's location would solve this but short of that the party will have to do their research in town. Each day spent is a drain on their finances.
Information about the Crown of Shadows that can be found:
1) It was created by a family of mages who wanted to tap into the Plane of Shadows to bolster their own arcane powers
2) The mages eventually killed one another when sharing the Crown was no longer an option
3) It bestows a shade's ability to control darkness and shadow, i.e. hide in shadows, shadow stepping into the Shadowfell...
4) It is hidden either in or somewhere near Neverwinter
5) If worn by a shade or other being from the Shadowfell, it greatly enchances their current shadow powers
6) It bestows the ability upon non-mages to cast shadow magic or greatly increases the potency of shadow magic cast if worn by a mage
7) The final owner of the Crown called himself the shadowmage
8) The shadowmage died during the Spellplague and the Crown was assumed to be lost and possibly non-functional
9) The family of mages bound the spirit of a powerful shadow demon to the item to establish a connection between the Prime Material Plane and the Plane of Shadow. It is through this connect that they can draw power directly from the Plane of Shadows or the Shadowfell as it is now called.
10) Whatever else the DM deems appropriate knowledge; could possibly include some false information as not all research yields accurate truths
After two weeks or the party gives up doing any more research, the party will either a) hear about a fortune teller or seer that has recently come to the city and she apparently has extremely powerful and accurate powers of divination. Perhaps she might be able to guide their quest, as at this point the PCs may know a little to a lot about the Crown but not where to find it. Alternatively b), an agent of Madame Zazu's might seek the PCs out and say that Madame Zazu has heard about their inquiries about the Crown of Shadows and has some info that may be of use to them.
Irregardless of why they go there, the PCs will soon be entering the shop of Madame Zazu, Advisor and Seer. The decor of her lounge is quite drab in color and filled with the heavy scent of incense and dust.
Madame Zazu, who is really Valindra Shadowmantle the Lich in illusionary disguise, will greet the PCs, try to make them comfortable and, depending on how they got there, a) will either ask them how she can be of assistance to them or b) mention she had heard about their inquiries about the Crown of Shadows and has some information she thought they might want. If a) and the PCs ask for her help, she can either verify or deny the validity of a few of the items of information they have dug up, but promises to do a full divination for the PCs, a divination she will have to do alone. She will ask where the PCs are staying, usher them out of her shop and says she will send them the results of her divination. In a few hours, a well dressed halfing courier will drop off the riddle scroll at their inn or tavern room. If b) then she will say she has already done a full divination on their behalf and gives them the riddle scroll. She will then immediately usher them out as the hour is late and but invites them back if they need help with the riddle.
In both scenarios, Madame Zazu will offer one of the members of the party a new cloak, this is how she will keep track of the parties progress as she will be able to spy upon the party by scrying in her crystal ball by using the cloak as a focus.
In both scenarios, Madame Zazu will refuse any payment for her services or the cloak, explaining that she will take her payment, later... hinting that they will run into her again in the future.
In both scenarios, should the PCs return to the shop after the first encounter with Madame Zazu, they will find the shop locked and closed. Should they break in, they will find it empty save for the drab decor, a few spiders and dust bunnies.
Madame Zazu / Valindra Shadowmantle's motivation:
As it turns out the powerful Crown of Shadows is becoming an annoying thorn in the lich's side. The shadowmage has arise as a shadowlich due to the influence of the Crown and the Shadowfell and is vying for control of the graveyard with Valindra and ultimately also plans on attacking Neverwinter and the world at large. Valindra could wage an all out mage / undead war with the shadowlich but would rather manipulate a group of adventures to do her bidding and rid her of the pesky shadowlich who is steadily growing in power and soon will be a bonafide threat if not dealt with sooner rather than later.
The Riddle Scroll:
It is now the PCs job in solving the riddle scroll Madame Zazu has given them.
The first two lines are just restating the obvious, they're on a quest and seeking where the shadowmage is buried most likely with the Crown of Shadows
It should be relatively easy to figure out the final resting place of the shadowmage and the hidden Crown is hidden in the Neverdeath Graveyard from the next two lines of the riddle scroll. The PCs can obtain a map of Neverwinter from city officials to find their way or they can just ask directions to the graveyard.
The next two lines give the important clue as to which mausoleum the PCs must enter and search for the Crown of Shadows. I like to use the german name "Ebonfeuer" and pass it off as Thorass or Archaic Common in reference to the "Blackest-fire" phrase in the riddle scroll. A smart member of the party might notice that the word is capitalized and that it could signify a name. Alternatively the party members could take down a list of names they read off of the mausoleums and upon seeing "Ebonfeuer" draw the conclusion or perhaps they could get a list of names from a caretaker of the graveyard.
The last two lines of the riddle scroll refer to the crown itself as not being inherently evil but the "revenge" of the bound spirit manifests itself as a "tainting or corrupting" of the wearer with shadow essence over time and the wear will eventually become a shade but at a very slow pace left for the DM to decide. However, the treachery could have two meanings: 1) the PCs could fight over who will own the crown and kill each other for it or 2) if they decide to just destroy it when they vanquish the shadowmage/shadowlich, Valinda will appear to them and thank them for being her dupes and for essentially helping her gain more of a foothold in Neverwinter. Valindra will also appear to them if they decide to leave with the Crown and once again thank them for their help in getting her closer to destroying the city.
By whatever means they arrive at the "Ebonfeuer" mausoleum, it's time for the dungeon delve!
The Neverdeath Graveyard:
Description: "A cracked stone wall, patched in places with thick wood, surrounds the graveyard called Neverdeath. Consisting of two, roughly square sections of the city (the Graveyard proper & the pauper?s section), Neverdeath is filled with rows of headstones interspersed with mausoleums and crumbling statues, often overgrown with withered grasses. Time & the Spellplague & the cataclysm all took their toll on the graveyard, thrusting some sections higher than others, collapsing buildings and revealing graves. Coffins now jut from small cliffs, and tumbeled bones litter the ground. "
Upon their arrival, the PCs can pretty much waste as much time as the DM likes until they can figure out the riddle scroll clue about the "Ebonfeuer" mausoleum.
For every half hour spent in the graveyard, 30% chance encounter with a zombie or skeleton which attacks them on sight.
The Ebonfeuer mausoleum:
Description: "You walk up to a old and dilapidated greyish-brown stone structure not until the dozens of other mausoleums in this graveyard. Cracked and crumbling headstones and statues surround the structure making the passage to the dark entrance difficult but possible with care. The occasional caw of crow or the rustle of its wings can be heard around the structure but little else in the otherwise dead silent graveyard."
Mausoleum top level: A typical mausoleum, stone pillars, stone or metal plates on the walls with the names of deceased Ebonfeuers carved into them. An alter at the back of the structure with a vase full of flowers that have long since decayed after decades of sitting there. There is a layer of dust and dirt over pretty much everything inside the structure.
There are symbols of a black flame all over the inside of the structure. One particular one on one of the walls is slightly loose that a rogue in the part might notice and open to reveal a key hole. Upon picking the lock a section of the floor of mausoleum will slide open and reveal a dark staircase descending into the ground.
The stair case is trapped, anyone walking along the left side of the 6 foot wide staircase will cause all the stairs to flatten into a slide and end in a pit trap at the bottom of the staircase causing quite a bit of damage from the spikes in the pit. The triggers are the left side of the third and fourth steps from the top.
At the bottom of the stairs lies a grand double door which bears a huge black flame symbol. A half of the symbol on each door. The door is lock but not trapped. Passing through the door place you at #1 on the mausoleum map. All monsters encounter are found in 2nd ed. AD&D monster manual. Please consult for specific stats.
#1) Dusty, rusty suits of armor line both sides of the corridor.
4 of the suits will come to life and attack anyone in sight unless they are a member of the Ebonheuer family.
#2) Another grand double door very similar to the one first encountered when entering the lower level of the mausoleum, except the black fire symbol is outlined in gold and the door is not locked. It leads to the inner sanctum of the mausoleum and to the final encounter with the shadowlich who wears the Crown of Shadows.
#3) 6 skeletons are milling about in this area, they attack on sight
Treasure: one of the skeletons is wielding a magical weapon (reward as level appropriate)
#4) The angry ghost of a fallen adventurer resides in this section of the mausoleum. He doesn't believe anyone deserves the Crown of Shadow more than he does and will attack the PCs to prevent them from acquiring the item that he will never get the chance to own.
Treasure: money and a misc magic item found on the adventurer's decaying corpse in the corner of the room (reward as level appropriate)
#5) 3 wights are huddled in a group in the center of this corridor. The sound of ripping flesh and crunching bone can be heard as they are apparently eating something they must have just killed. They attack on sight for the interruption of their meal.
Treasure: money and a potion found on the dead body that the wights were just eating (reward as level appropriate)
#6) Another pit trap lies in the middle of this corridor leading to a dead end, but this one opens into a pit full of poisonous snakes. A rope or means to levitate or fly is needed to leave the pit.
#7) A wraith lives in this section of the mausoleum. He will hide in shadows until the party passes and attack the last person of the party from stealth.
#8) There is a pack of 6 shadows roaming this hallway. They hate all living things and will attack on sight.
#9) A skeleton armed with a rusty broadsword is strangely and slowly floating towards the party in this corridor. It is actually an animated skeleton that has been "swallowed" by a gelatinous cube that is the "cleaning crew" for most of the corridors of the mausoleum and will attack the PCs should they get too close or decide to lunging strike the skeleton that is floating towards them.
Treasure: money and a few magic items that have survived being in the digestive juices of the cube (reward as level appropriate)
#10) 5 zombies are walking aimlessly around this section of the mausoleum. They attack the party on sight (probably wanting to eat their brains...)
Treasure: one of the zombies is wearing a magic pendant (reward as level appropriate)
#11) This is the staging ground for the shadowlich's army. Currently there are 30 piles of bones on the group in chaotic heaps. They will animate if the party stays in the area for more than a minute.
#12) A vampire has made this section of mausoleum her lair. She came to serve the shadowlich and help build his army of undead to try and take over the world... She will try to stall by negotiating with a powerful party while she silently summons the skeletons from #3 and attacks once they have arrived. If the PCs have already taken care of encounter #3, she will either attack if party is weak or wounded or flee to #2 if party is strong to warn her master
Treasure: money, works of art, a few magic items (reward as level appropriate)
The Inner Sanctum:
Through the unlocked and gilded grand double doors, the PCs will find the final resting place of the shadowmage who has recently risen as a shadowlich. The room was once lavishly decorated with rich red pillows, drapery, wonderful works of art on the walls with piles of shiny money and gems laying around, but, like its main occupant, the room and all within it has decayed over the centuries to reveal drab blood color shredded cloth decor, spiderwebs as far as the eye can see, dusty piles of tanished silver and lack luster gems. In the center sits the withered form of a mage with wisps of black magic swirling from his body. He appeared like a macabre decayed statue of a man sitting on a throne of black marble save for the tell-tale red points of light that served as his eyes signified his lichdom. On his head sits the Crown of Shadows which seemed to absorb the meager ambient light in the room thrown off by the few lit torches on the sconces in the corners of the room.
"You've come seeking the Crown of Shadows?" the shadowlich hissed with a sepulchral echo in his voice as he rose from his black throne. "All you will find is death here, "he added as black and grey motes of eldritch energy coalesced around him. "And then will you serve me as I destroy the world that gave birth to you...."
If they party did not vanquish the female vampire in #12 she will be here as well or entering very soon as soon as the fighting starts. This is the final encounter and the battle should be difficult, not impossible, but overall very epic and satisfying for the survivors.
As the shadowlich is vanquished, he will leave behind a pile of dust and the Crown of Shadows on spot of his demise. The PCs now have a choice of destroying the Crown (DM determines method, but Mt. Hotenow happens to be close by) or keeping it and possibly fighting each other over it sometime soon. There is also ample amount of treasure, albeit dusty and dirty, in the room to be split.
After the PCs are done with the room and turn to leave, they hear clapping emanating from the direction of the shadowlich's throne. They turn to see Madame Zazu seductively laying across the throne and evilly smiling. She gets up off of the throne still smiling, clapping and approaches the party. She explains how the shadowlich was becoming an annoying thorn in her side and although she could have taken care of him herself, she greatly enjoyed manipulating and watching the PCs deal with him. When the PCs ask who she truly is, she dramatically reveals she is Valindra Shadowmantle a lich herself (flesh and clothes decaying and shredding before their eyes), and "I will be the Scourge of Neverwinter" (or something equally dark and grandious) and "I thank you for helping me on my way to destroying this wretched city."
If the PCs foolishy try to attack her, the attacks will pass right through her as this is only a projected magical image while Valindra is actually elsewhere working on her evil plans to destroy Neverwinter.
Valindra's voice rises into maniacal laughter as her image fades away leaving the PCs wondering what harm have they truly brought upon the wonderful city that they came to help....
(Back to The Price for a Soul...)
10-22-2012, 01:35 AM #14
I hope you enjoy it. I've tried to keep it in a pseudo-encounter format with enough openness to encourage the reader to build upon it as they see fit.
The back story of this adventure is based upon a merchant who adopted a child whose soul was tainted with a form of wild magic. The taint on her soul enables her to exact her revenge after death, which the players are thrust into. The merchant's rivals, upset at his business practices, bribed his bodyguards to kidnap his daughter in an attempt to humble him by forcing him to sell his mist prized possession - his mine. When the kidnapping took place north of Neverwinter on an overnight outing, an unexpected witness - a hunter who was trapping nearby - unknowingly threw a wrench in the works. The bodyguards panicked and planted evidence against the hunter, which raised the merchant's suspicions and inspired him to murder the hunter. The bodyguards, shocked at their employer's actions, confessed to the double-crossing and were promptly hanged outside the mine as punishment. The girl, meanwhile, had escaped her captor - the bodyguard who kidnapped her and staged his own death on the night of her kidnapping. After catching him asleep at the mine, she doused him with lantern oil and set him on fire as payback for the treatment that she received. She fled into the mine, where she slipped and fell to her death. In a strange twist of fate, her father and mother perished at the jaws of wolves in the same mine searching for her a few days later.
This adventure is a one-night in-game adventure that starts at (or after) nightfall and ends at daybreak. The DM will have to carefully monitor the time - this is a once-per-year-ingame event. Here is the outline, sanitized for this forum - our game group's games are usually for adults ages 23+ and contain some graphic content. I've edited most of what I wrote for our group out or sanitized it for a more PG-13 presentation. I can say that the graphic elements have added more horror immersion for our group's players. YMMV of course. Please note that this adventure is designed for levels 2-4, adjusting for party size and level.
This encounter lasts a total of 8-10 game hours, during which the haunting of this place takes the players back 53 years. Remember to keep track of the time - at the end of 8-10 hours, dawn breaks and the adventure ends. The players must wait another game year to investigate again. It should be noted that the NPCs in this adventure are telling their version of the truth - their consciousness is summoned back to a pocket universe to relive one person's imagination of the events that took place - as such, they are frozen in time and are, although dead in modern times, very much alive while the players are dealing with them.
I strongly encourage ad-libbing and possibly adding monsters as needed. A dry test run of this adventure with just the skeleton of the encounters intact was very well-received among my gaming group - and I ad-libbed more than a few responses and encounters.
The crisp chill of the fall evening surrounds you as you travel the surprisingly busy High Road south toward Neverwinter. Tonight the High Road is bustling with mercenaries, artisans, inventors and merchants looking to make their living off of the efforts to rebuild the once-great city. The sun has begun its quick descent tonight and dusk settles in as you and your fellow travelers quicken your paces to arrive in the great city before nightfall.
Ahead you see a small crowd forming around a man who pleads for help from travelers. The man pleads with the adventurers and their surrounding travelers, "My name is Walter Thornwood and I need your help. Please. My daughter - she's been taken from me. My wife and I were but simple merchants traveling to Neverwinter a fortnight ago. Now we are but poor peasants begging for kindness from strangers. My wife has been bitten by a ravenous wolf that hides in the mines to the east, and can no longer walk. Yet she refuses to travel to town for fear that our daughter will be lost to us forever. I cannot leave her here alone on this busy road - can you help us, please?" His face is haggard, his eyes dark and sunken from lack of sleep and nourishment. (Sense Motive or other truth-telling checks will tell the players that his motives are sincere - he really wishes to find his daughter.)
Should the players decide to interrogate further, they gain the following pieces of information:
1) They had bodyguards, but one disappeared with their daughter and the rest soon after while searching for her. If truth is detected on this statement in specific, the players should know that he is lying about part of his statement. Pressing him further will only yield the comment that he "gave some liars their due, and that may be a contributing factor to their disappearance". He will not answer any questions beyond that, but will offer the players a small chest brimming with gold (5,000) if they will help him find his daughter successfully. Attempts to steal from him will render the PCs unconscious as they are forcibly kicked from the barrier of the pocket dimension. They will wake up the next morning on the side if the High Road minus whatever possessions the good travelers of the High Road deemed fit to leave them. (The adventure ends at this point - there's really no tolerance for more than one double-crossing entity in this adventure)
2) The girl is eight years old, adopted, with blonde hair, blue eyes and nothing but her nightgown to keep her warm.
3) The remaining bodyguards left to search for her days ago but have not been seen since.
4) The hunter in the cabin knows something.
5) Her name is Ariela.
The man instructs the players to head east toward his family's camp and use whatever they can find there to help them.
The players find a camp whose fire is all but out, very few rations left, and three tents left in shambles. Sifting through the items here produces a few clues (Perception checks for each, but I allow higher checks to find multiple items - so a Perception of 17 would find the DC 15 and 14 items, or a Perception of 13 might find the 10, 12 and 12):
1) DC14 - A ledger detailing the sale of a nearby mine to a Walter Thornwood, with a Thornwood family crest drawn on the cover.
2) DC12 - Various scribbled parchments with childlike drawings in charcoal
3) DC15 - A small broken porcelain doll arm
4) DC10 - A child's travel bag with two changes of clothes - thick woolen nightclothes and a well-crafted travel dress and cloak.
5) DC12 - Signs of a struggle and dragging of an object to the north.
The undergrowth around the camp is rather thick, so the trail is broken in places. If the players spoke at length with the father, they will undoubtedly guess that the marks lead to the general direction of the dilapidated cabin that sits upon the slight rise to the north. This is a 15-minute walk to the cabin. On the way they will see a roadway that leads to the east, making the northward trek to the Cabin an optional part of the adventure (but it fills in gaps in the story).
Make a DC 14 will save for each player and NPC as they approach within 20 feet of the cabin. Players will feel a bit uneasy, as if something is amiss if the save successful. Players who fail the roll notice nothing out of the ordinary about the cabin. A roll of 1 leaves the player shaken(per the combat rules) as long as they remain within 20' of the cabin.
If the players knock before entering, they will not receive an answer. Inside there are a few clues that are obvious. This is a cabin comprising of one large room. A cot lies along the far wall, a large pile of skins ready for tanning lie to the right of the door, and are recognizable (survival or knowledge nature DC 12 check) as deer, badger, elk and cow hides. Across the room from the hides there is a large bloodstained table. On the table are a number of rusty, bloodstained tools that are common in the skinning, tanning and leatherworking trades (knives, hooks, blades, hammers, punches, needles). A perception check DC12 immediately reveals a trapdoor that leads to a basement, or 10 minutes of searching will find it beneath the sleeping cot.
Key items of interest here:
1) An un-tarnished dagger with gold etching in the blade lies in the corner of the room and is discovered with either a full sweep of the room or a DC 14 perception check. A close inspection reveals the presence of blood stains in the gold etchings.
2) A full sweep or DC15 perception check will reveal the broken head of a porcelain doll, a scrap of cloth from the doll's dress, and a tuft of blond hair (some still with roots attached) on the far corner of the table behind three jars of tanning fluid.
3) A note scribbled in a child's handwriting magically appears in the hunter's pocket if he is killed or subdued and searched (see below). He has no knowledge of its presence and all attempts to divine the truth (Sense Motive, Zone of Truth, etc. will reveal this). It simply says "You should have helped, silly man. Daddy killed you because he thought you were the one. I brought you back because you wouldn't save me."
After the discoveries are made, or an hour of game time has passed, the hunter will return. He is a human man, powerfully built in his late 40's. His unkept appearance shows that he has probably been out here trapping for weeks. He has a crossbow drawn and loaded as he approaches cautiously. A handaxe is slung by his side.
Human Ranger, lvl 6
STR 14/DEX 16/CON 12/INT 10/WIS 12/CHA 7/Fort 7/Ref 9/Will 3 HP 41
Crossbow 1d6, Handaxe 1d6+2, AB 6/1, 2 atks, AC 17 (Hide Armor)
A Diplomacy check at DC13 will stop him from attacking, as will an Intimidate DC15. Failed Intimidate prompts an attack.
Sense Motive DC13 reveals that the man is genuine in his responses.
Critical pieces of evidence gained from him:
1) "I saw the girl get dragged off. One of the guards did it, and I've already told her father that."
2) "They headed toward the mines to the east of here, probably about an hour's walk."
3) If confronted about the doll parts, etc: He will insist he knows nothing about them, that they weren't there and nobody else has been here. If pressed or intimidated, he will insist that he has been set up and to look for the man in chainmail the dragged the girl from camp. If asked why he didn't stop them, he will simply shrug and say "It's Neverwinter Wood - sometimes you just don't question what you see and let the Wood sort it out." Pressing him further will result in him attacking the players. He will not stop attacking until killed or subdued.
While the players are searching the room, noises can be heard from beneath the trap door, and if it is not found with a Perception check, let them find it with a full sweep of the room (dock them 30 minutes). Should the players open the trap door, they will discover an earthen basement beneath the cabin. Should the players enter the basement, they find zombies in various adventure garb hanging from meat hooks in the ceiling along with the carcasses of deer, elk and the like. It is fairly easy to kill them, as they are considered prone targets. A long tunnel to the southwest leads to the side of the hill that this cabin rests on. It is approximately 3 feet in height and the entrance is obscured by bushes. The hunter uses this tunnel to bring in his kills, skin them and smoke the meat in the basement while he tans the leather upstairs. If the players discover the basement first, the hunter admits to its purpose but does not have any knowledge of the zombies. If he is somehow subdued and taken to the basement to see for himself, he reacts with genuine horror and cannot speak to their presence or purpose. He will immediately accuse the players of necromancy and attack if this is the case - at which point the players will find the note detailed above.
***If a rogue picks the note from the hunter's pocket, the gilded knife will disappear from its finder's possession and appear immediately in the back of the hunter, in which case he dies instantly.***
***If at any time the hunter is forced to leave his cabin once he arrives, the same result as the pickpocket note above will happen - the knife will automatically appear in the hunter's back and he will fall over dead.***
The road to the Mine and Quarry
On the way to the quarry, the players will encounter the body of a man in ornate chainmail whose breast emblem matches the family crest on the ledger book found at the camp. His hands have been removed and his tongue cut out, but he is otherwise perfectly intact. He has no pulse (if checked and appears to be dead for all intents and purposes. He will never move, as this is his punishment, doled out by Ariela. A perception check (DC15, DC12 while examining the body) reveals that the eyes of this corpse follow the closest player's every move. Examining the body reveals another charcoal note that reads "Liars rarely have to use their tongues. This one took things from one place and put them where they didn't belong, costing a man his life." While the players are examining this scene, between three and six zombies in random adventurer garb come shambling out of the woods toward the party. They all have the same stats as a standard zombie, but with one addition. Each one explodes into a gory mess upon death, covering PCs in all adjacent squares in a 360 degree radius. If any characters are in the affected squares when it explodes, a player must make a reflex save (DC 14-16) as the bodies burst into a shower of small glowing maggots. If the reflex save is failed, then a Fortitude save must be made (DC 12-15). Failure to pass this save results in the maggots burrowing themselves into the skin of their victim, at which point they dissolve - cutting them out is impossible. From that point on to the end of the adventure, the players affected by this will radiate a faint necromantic aura, and no cleansing will remove it. The DM should make note of each one, as this will affect the final fight with Ariela.
The Mine & Quarry
When the players approach the quarry, they arrive at the main gate - a large wooden gate with the words "Thornwood Mines" painted across the top. Hanging from the sign are the bodies of seven men dressed in ornate chainmail adorned with the Thornwood family crest. The corpses emanate an eerie, disembodied moan that forces a horror check of DC10-12. Failure results in the player being unable to move for 1d4 rounds as they try to compose themselves. Tacked to the door is another note scrawled in charcoal: "Three by three minus one minus one, Father slew these one by one. Their lies cost me my life." The gate is wide enough for three to four horse-drawn carts to travel side by side. It is unlocked, and opens with just one player pushing the gates open. Upon entering, each player must make a reflex save (DC 14-16) as the bodies burst into a shower of small glowing maggots. If the reflex save is failed, then a Fortitude save must be made (DC 12-15). Failure to pass this save results in the maggots burrowing themselves into the skin of their victim, at which point they dissolve - cutting them out is impossible. From that point on to the end of the adventure, the players affected by this will radiate a faint necromantic aura, and no cleansing will remove it. The DM should make note of each one, as this will affect the final fight with Ariela.
Following the road past the gate leads the players to a massive (300 feet across) open-faced rock quarry. The northern wall of the quarry has an entrance that leads into the lower mines. The quarry itself has been mined in steppes, and there is a gradual and manageable way to step down into the quarry. At the center of the quarry is a single decomposing body also dressed in chainmail adorned with the Thornwood family crest. Staked to the chest is another note. "He took my doll, my freedom and my innocence. I took his life as well as his afterlife. While I miss what I lost, I think he misses his more."
Clutched in the body's right hand is a porcelain doll that is missing an arm and its head. Matching the corresponding parts found at the campsite and the cabin confirm that this is the same doll.
The sky should be getting lighter by now as the players have spent a considerable amount of time traveling to and investigating various areas. Give the characters a few minutes to absorb what has gone on.
Let them brainstorm on what they have discovered. After a few moments, five or six large wolves should come running out of the mine entrance, surrounding and attacking the players. I used the standard wolves in Pathfinder (since that is what we were playing), but any will do that can provide a moderate challenge to the players. This is primarly an encounter that I threw in to shake up the Cleric, since he had fun turning everything thrown at him thus far.
As soon as the fight with the wolves ends, a youthful giggle echoes across the quarry. The players should turn to find a young girl dressed in a simple gray woolen nightgown standing at the top of the northern face of the quarry, almost directly above the entrance to the mine itself. Her hair is somewhat disheveled, and she has a slight bruise on one cheek. In spite of her mistreated appearance, she is beaming from ear to ear. "Let me guess...father sent you find his wittle guwl, correct?"
The ground shakes violently as corpses begin to erupt from the ground, starting at the gate to the quarry and closing in on the players' location near the mine entrance.
"He sent these people, too you know." An evil sneer decorates her smile as she motions toward the ever-growing crowd of hundreds of zombies. "They all jumped at the chance to help the poor old man... but I got the last laugh. Father failed to help me - his bodyguards double-crossed him, took me here, and this is where I died. They lied to father, made him think the hunter killed me, and my dear parents gave up their search while the bodyguards kept me here. But then daddy found out and I thought he came for me - but he didn't. He came for revenge. He killed them all and died trying to find me here."
A giggle escapes her lips as she continues to smile. "I was already dead, lost in a dark place, and now I tell them all what to do! So every year, as a little prank, I make them all relive these moments. And every year father brings me more toys to play with until my next playtime."
She assumes a doe-eyed look as her voice changes to a mocked innocent tone.
"I used to think he was such a bad daddy for not saving me. Now I think he's quite fun to keep around. And you - nobody has ever put my dolly back together for me! I think I'll keep you, too!"
The players can try to fight their way out, but there are literally hundreds of fallen heroes' zombies and skeletons that now block their path. They will be forced to retreat into the mine shaft (entrance 5' wide, or one block). The mine shaft is literally a stone-cut spiral staircase cut into the stone wall with a large, open central area. In the ceiling is an old block and tackle that was used to haul stone up from the pit below. The players can see that the bottom of this staircase is bathed in an unearthly purple glow. All zombies retain the same maggot effect as the ones encountered on the road to the Quarry. Any attempts to attack the girl above the players will be rendered ineffective. This pocket dimension is in her head, and her visible presence here is nothing more than an illusion that cannot be dispelled. Her corpse is the anchor for the dimension - if consecrated, the dimension will cease to exist as her spirit will be put to rest and the ability to maintain the dimension will be nullified.
The players have 15 rounds before sunlight come up. If they do not complete this within 15 rounds, any living players are teleported to the edge of the Neverwinter Wood, where they entered to search for the camp. Any dead players are lost (adjust as you see fit, but it fuels the reason that there are hundreds of zombies in that pocket dimension, so explain it away with a plausible explanation). Any spirits stuck outside of their bodies are teleported with the living players, but they respawn at 0 HP and are assumed to have lost their first stabilization check.
All players affected by the maggot traps earlier should roll a DC 13-15 (adjust as necessary) Fort save. Failure results in a horrific experience - the player's soul is forcibly eject from their body and their body becomes a zombie controlled by Ariela's will. The spirit form is sentient and retains all memories, and is aware of its surroundings. It can fly (30 move, maneuverability class B), but cannot physically interact with the material plane. Each round the spirit can avoid moving and/or attacking to possess a zombie by rolling 1d20 + 1/2character level + WIS Bonus against a DC15. If successful, the characters can control the zombie's body with all the limitations of being a zombie. (This mechanic was added in case ALL heroes are ejected due to the maggot infestation, plus who DOESN'T want to be a zombie??) The zombies from above will begin to file in through the mine shaft's opening and pour out onto the stairs. Players that have reached the bottom of the stairs will have a 20% chance of having to make a Reflex save to avoid 1 falling body part per turn (2 dmg per body part) from the hordes of rotting creatures above them. As soon as the first player (excluding spirit form ones) reaches the floor of the pit (30' by 30' square), they see a set of child's bones lying on the ground. Beside of them is the corpse of a cleric, still clutching a glass vial of clear liquid. The doll and its missing parts will immediately disappear and reform floating above the child's body. The completed doll will grow to Large size as a swift action and will move to protect the child's remains. It has the following stats:
Continued in my second post on this thread...
10-22-2012, 02:48 AM #15
Yaga Darrow's Cauldron
YAGA DARROW'S CAULDRON
In an obscure corner of a small street someplace in the City there is a tiny shop that smells of foreign spices and strange incense, but for those with supernaturally keen senses there is also a distant aroma hinting of black mold and death. While many have a vague memory of such a place, most will be hard-pressed to recall exactly where it is, or exactly when it was last they passed by it. They may remember it is run by a mysterious shopkeeper known as Yaga Darrow. But her description will vary widely: she is a voluptuous swarthy siren with a quick tongue; no wait..she is a slight waif of a girl, quiet with big eyes; or is she a crone hunched with the years, cantankerous and cruel. None can agree, but for some reason the disagreement never gets heated and the topic of conversation moves on to other more pressing matters...
The PC receives psychic flashes of a little girl crying for help out of Yaga Darrow's Cauldron. The PC must locate Yaga Darrow's shop, find her Cauldron, enter the Cauldron (which is really a large extra-dimensional space), navigate it's perils, locate and free and the little girl, and escape the confines of the Cauldron.
The adventure can begin many ways as long as the messages received by the little girl are short psychic images flashed in the PC's mind:
*The PC finds a blank note hidden on the jobs board in the tavern. Upon touching it, the PC receives the psychic message.
* A messenger hands the PC a blank note in an envelope and scurries off. Upon opening the note, the PC receives the psychic message.
* The PC has recurring dreams every night of the little girl's psychic message, each night becoming stronger until action is taken.
The psychic message itself is of a little human girl in a flowery dress crying out "Help me. Please Help me! I'm stuck inside the cauldron in Yaga Darrow's Emporium! Please get me out of here!", she looks over her shoulder and the vision fades.
Beginning the Adventure
The first step to be taken is to locate Yaga Darrow's Shop. Yaga Darrows Emporium will not normally be perceived. While it does have a specific address in the city, nobody will normally notice it except with the help of special true-sight spells. The party may ask townspeople, but as described in Adventure Background, they will not be able to pinpoint the location of Yaga Darrow's shop.
In fact, the best way to find Yaga Darrow's shop is to send a message to Yaga Darrow via messenger, and follow the messenger.
This idea may be suggested by one of the towns sages, or impinged upon their mind by psychic images of "Find Messenger Mycroft!" or "Send her a letter!"
Yaga Darrow's Emporium
Upon locating a messenger (perhaps a young boy named Mycroft who runs messages around the city for a penny), it is a simple matter to pay him a penny to deliver a note to Yaga Darrow and follow him to the correct address.
Once the PC witnesses the messenger insert the note into a tiny mailbox in front of the shop, the shop will shimmer into the PC's awareness even though it had actually been there all along.
The 'Emporium' itself appears as a small shack with a crooked wooden sign burned with the words "YAGA DARROW'S EMPORIUM" above the door that stands upon a small porch hidden under a thatch awning. The porch is covered with dry leaves and the corners are filled with cobwebs.
The flimsy door is not locked, and it creaks noisily when opened. Once inside, the PC will see many old shelves with strange knick-knacks on them: snow-globes, wooden daggers, and other useless junk. Everything is covered in dust and cobwebs. It smells of old spices, incense and dust.
In the corner is a little desk with a drawer. When the PC gets close to investigate, a large rat will leap out and require dispatching.
Behind the desk is a little fireplace, and placed on a rack in the fireplace there will be seen a large cauldron. Upon setting eyes on the cauldron, a psychic image of the little girl will appear, "Help me! Hurry!"
Yaga Darrow's Cauldron
Upon touching the cauldron, the PC will apparently be transported to the lip of a gigantic cauldron shaped pit, covered with mist. A stairway leading down into the mists can be perceived. There is no escaping the lip of the cauldron except the stairs downward: the PC can travel along the rim,but will see nothing but myst inside the cauldron, and only a blur outside. If they choose to jump off the ledge formed by the lip of the cauldron they will..have a bad day.
Once the PC steps onto the stairs, they will be instantly levitated down to the floor of the cauldron. The inside of the cauldron is pitch black.
A slight glow can be seen within arms reach: upon inspection it appears to be a small silk bag with something glowing inside.
If the PC attempts to use any sort of flame or light source, they will find that it will not work. It is always difficult to see inside the cauldron, and if the PC cannot see in the dark, the only form a light is the little glowing stone that can be found inside the silk bag. In any event, the sight-distance will only be a matter of feet.
The inside of Yagga Darrow's Cauldron is made of an iron-like substance that reaches up into the mists that is formed into a series of concentric circles. It cannot be scaled or pierced. The PC is transported to the south outer ring which appears to be a wide (30') curving passage going east and west. All noises by the PC make an eerie metallic echoing sound.
There are four concentric inner ring walls: the first has a door at the north end, the second at the south, the third at the north again, and the fourth at the south. Thus, to reach the center room of the cauldron the PC must traverse around each ring to the door to the inner rings. Each door is made of the same impenetrable iron, and requires a special key to open. The inner chamber inside the inner ring has a dais with a coffin on it, and includes the final encounter.
There is an encounter at east and west sides of each of the rings. Successful completion of each encounter will give 1/2 of a key which fits the door to that ring.
Ring one is a circular hallway, dark, enshrouded in mist. The floor is indistinct and mist covered. It is empty except for mist and the encounters.
Ring One West
A man-sized glass fortune telling box is centered in mists of the ringway. The glass is dark and unbreakable. The edges of the box are covered with indecipherable runes. There is a small slot and a lever that appears to accept some type of token.
In fact, the token required is the lightstone from the silk bag; the PC should be allowed to experiment with this, but if the lightstone doesn't occur to them, eventually a psychic message "Use the stone!" can be given.
Once the lightstone is inserted into the slot and the lever pulled, the PC is enveloped by the dark mists, but the inside of the glass box lights up as bright as noontime. Inside we see what is clearly a pale skinned Vampire. Glued to his forhead is a curious waxy medallion.
The waxy medallions are power inhibitors that limit the powers of a creature inside the cauldron to that of the PC's. If the coin was to be removed by some magic negating means, the true power of the creature would realize itself and the PC might..have a bad day.
The Vampire Deluth
The vampire begins a speech:
"I am the Vampire Deluth, give me a coin and I'll tell you the..!" he begins. But then he enrages, clearly angry about being held inside the box and starts kicking at the glass. Then, he turns into a mist and starts darting around the inside of the box, bouncing off the glass. Soon he returns to his humanoid form, and just hangs there, dejected.
At this point, the PC may notice that he has a necklace with the top half of a key attached to it.
Now the party may attempt to parley with the vampire. He can be convinced to give the lightstone back, but will not give up the key half. He will also suggest that the PC has the power to break the glass while the lightstone is inside the case, which, in the end is the only way to proceed with this encounter.
The PC will be able to break the glass with some effort while the Vampire has the lightstone, and once this is done, the vampire will turn into a bat (with a waxy coin on its forehead) and attack. Once the vampire/bat is dispatched, the PC may acquire the key half. [If the waxy medallion is removed from the vampire, it's corpse will turn into a mist and fly away, returning as a full fledged vampire...someday.]
Ring One East
At the east side of the first ring the PC will find what looks like a giant cotton ball with strings attached to it. A small distance away from it can be seen the body of a small boy..perhaps a messenger..wrapped in silk and desicated. Upon further ado, several gigantic spiders the size of dwarves will leap out and attack. They too have Waxy Coins on their heads. Dispatching these and searching the 'cotton ball' nest will reveal the a small rod-like piece of metal, the second part of a key.
Ring One North Door
The north door is made of the same irony substance, only it is covered with irony skulls, screaming out silently into the mists. Upon inserting the key into the lock, a psychic image intrudes "Yes! Keep going! Hurry! There's not much time!"
Ring two is similar to ring one, only there are large patches of moss on the ground making a difficult path, between which there is a murky water.
Stepping into the water will weaken the PC, subtracting 1 from his primary stat for the remainder of the encounter (or the curse if removed).
Immersion or drinking the water will render the PC helpless, and if untreated, he will...have a very bad day.
Ring Two West
Here the PC will see an odd stack of boxes towering up into the mists. Some of the boxes have holes in them. The air here has the pungent odor of ..fur. Upon approaching the tower, a growling sound will echo throughout the chamber. The growl of a panther. After some poking about and a pregnant pause, the PC will find a black cat leaping at him from above. It will grow to a size appropriate to the PC, and attempt to shred the PC.
Upon dispatch, it will be noted that the cat has a collar with half a key hanging from its neck.
Ring Two East
Here there is a large raised patch that has stones spaced across it. In fact, this is a graveyard. Nothing much will happen until the name of one of the headstones is read aloud, "Thadius Stone!", at which point, skeletons will claw their way out of the grave and attempt to feast upon the PC's innards.
Upon dispatch, half of a key can be found in Thadius's grave.
Ring Two South Door
This door appears to be made of stone. Upon using the key, a psychic image of the little girl appears "It hurts! Hurry!"
The floor of ring three is sand. It is slow going, and there are various spots where it quickens into pits. Walking down the middle will lead to many dexterity checks, and failure to cope with the quicksand can lead to death by suffocation. The insightful PC may notice that the edges of the ringway are firmer and safe to travel.
Ring Three West
In the middle of the sand, the party will see a small pyramid made of sandstone. On the top they will find a small gold colored capstone, that if turned, will cause the pyramid to crumble. Out of the rubble and sand will come a large mummy with a waxy medallion on its forehead. Dispatching the mummy, the PC will find it wears an amulet that is actually half a key.
Ring Three East
Here there is a giant stone slab. Strapped to it, the PC will find a gruesome flesh golem with a waxy medallion on its forehead. Upon perceiving the PC, the golem will attempt to break its bonds. If the PC is perceptive enough, he may notice that one of the creatures finger bones is actually half a key, and he has a few rounds to attempt to retrieve the key before the monster escapes its bonds. If any sort of damage besides removing the key finger is done to the golem, it will immediately break its bonds, and the battle will ensue. This should be treated as a hard encounter.
Ring Three North Door
This door is round with a round bar to open. Upon inserting the key, the PC hears only a little girl crying.
Upon opening the door, the PC will notice that the floor of this ring is water. They must swim this portion; any gear will get wet and anything they will not or cannot swim with will have to be left behind.
Ring Four West
Here the PC will encounter a giant shark in the darkness. It has a waxy medallion on its forhead. Dispatching the shark the PC will find half a key in its belly.
Ring Four East
Here the PC will encounter a submersed Gelatinous Cube, with a waxy medallion inside it. Also, there may be found half a key.
Ring Four South Door
Another porthole above the waterline, difficult to reach. When the key is place within the keyhole, the PC hears a soft psychic sigh, like the wind blowing.
Cauldron Inner Chamber
The inner chamber has a very dull glow of its own, and a few ever-lit candles burning in sconces. The walls are lined with what appear to be coffins of every shape and size, some plain stone, others with elaborate runes, some black as ebony, others gilded and shining. In the center of the room is what appears to be a large stone altar with a small pine coffin centered on it. Surrounding the altar are small desks covered with strange alchemical materials, jars of unknown substances (what a which might have!), candles, and braziers, and chalk lines willy-nilly.
Suddenly, a psychic image of one of the tables will flash through the PC's mind. Amongst the clutter is long wooden wand with cryptic glyphs carved into it. "The wand! Use the wand!"
At this point, the PC has only one choice which is to find the wand on the table, and try to use it. Not only do they feel compelled to do so, they have no recourse as the coffins cannot be opened and there is no way out anyway.
Upon touching the wand, the PC is forced psychically to use it...on one of the coffins lining he wall. As this happens, a creature bursts the coffin open.
The first time, a boss-mode (level appropriate) Drow will attempt to dismember the PC.
After defeating the Drow, again, the PC is compelled to use the wand.
The second time, a boss-mode mage will try to burn the PC.
After deafeating the mage, the PC is compelled to use the wand.
The third time, it is a (unique) 7 foot tall humanoid the PC will instantly know is named 'Dr Tects' and the PC will also be aware that he is the true source of the psychic images. He has a tentacle mustache and webbing under his arms and between his long spindly fingers. His eyes are bloodshot and he is angry.
The PC is bludgeoned with psychic images and an overwhelming sense of disgust and loathing. The creature points at the tiny coffin in the room and the lid goes flying off. Inside is a pile of..pulp..wrapped in a familiar flowery dress.
Psychic images flash through the PC's mind: an old hag with a long steely knife, plungin its point into the heart of the catatonic body, ripping out the still pumping organ and squeezing its lifeblood into a little pot. Almost as if the creature equates the PC with the horrible hag, his last psychic words are "Irredeemable!".
The PC blacks out.
The PC is in a tavern, with further recollection of having left the Cauldron or how they got to the tavern.
Thus ends module one.
10-22-2012, 09:54 AM #16
The Beast Within
Questgiver: Rosalyn Colye, an orphaned little girl begging on the streets of Neverwinter.
Rosalyn will approach any nearby PCs, asking them to save her brother, Cormac, who was forcibly dragged out of Neverwinter by a robed man. She followed them out to Neverwinter Wood, and witnessed them entering a manor. The PCs can choose to help out for free, refuse, or demand payment for their services, but Rosalyn can only offer a few pieces of copper as that's all she has. If the PCs accept the quest, they are to make their way to Neverwinter Wood and look for the manor.
Journey to Werewolf Manor
PCs may face a random encounter in Neverwinter Wood while heading to the manor. The manor itself is easy to find.
[Nature Check - Tracking] : You spot two sets of footprints on the ground - one belonging to a man, and the other, a child's. However, near the manor, a pair of paw prints continues off where the man's footprints end. Judging by the spacing between the pawprints, it looks as though the creature walked on two legs instead of four.
The manor appears decrepit, but not abandoned. It is surrounded by a surprisingly well-kept garden with herbs of many varieties. The PCs can choose to collect the herbs.
There are also several small makeshift graves, and some of them appear to be recent.
The sound of children crying can be heard from the manor, only to be drowned out by terrifying howls every now and then.
A partially decayed werewolf's head is impaled on a pike in the garden. Below that is a signboard with the message - "Trespassers will suffer a slow, painful death".
The heavy front door to the manor is locked. It can be picked or bashed down, but an easier way to enter is by smashing the windows at the sides.
The place is in shambles. Broken pieces of furniture lie everywhere as if a giant had laid waste to the area. The curtains are faded with age and torn. If the PCs inspect the area, they'll notice deep running claw marks everywhere. The walls are both bloodied and riddled with scratches, with the most prominent scratches forming the words "I WON'T LET THE BEAST WIN".
The long dining table takes up most of the space in the room. It probably looked grand in its prime, but the wood is now faded and filled with cracks. Several animal bones litter the surface of the table.
The scratches on this wall form the words "MUST FIND CURE".
A small and severely deformed werewolf is crouched onto the table. Its left eye is freakishly bigger than the right, its right foot is a stump and its left arm is a tentacle. On its neck is a collar with serial numbers. The werewolf notices the PCs and immediately attacks. This is a medium difficulty encounter, as the werewolf is considerably strong for its size but suffers dexterity penalties for its unusual form.
[Arcana Check]: The collar around its neck is enchanted. It seems to be influencing the werewolf's actions.
Once the PCs get its health to 20%, the werewolf curls up into a ball and stops attacking. A ghostly figure of a boy also materializes and shouts, "Stop! It's innocent!"
The PCs can choose to hear the ghost boy out or ignore him and kill the werewolf. If they talk to ghost boy, they'll learn that his name is Davian, and that the werewolf they were attacking was once a child. Both of them were kidnapped by the wizard, Thoril Serpenthelm, along with many other children. He had infected them with the werewolf curse and performed terrible experiments on them. Some of them died in the process, like Davian, but those who survived usually ended up mutated in some way. If asked why Thoril is doing this to them, Davian would reply that he doesn't know, but that Thoril keeps a journal detailing the experiments in the study. If the PCs perform an insight check on Davian, they'll sense that he's telling the truth.
Davian pleads with the PCs to not only spare their lives, but also to help them find a cure or perhaps someone who could take care of them as they are. The PCs can choose to spare their lives and help them, or at least try, bluff, or kill them anyway.
If they decide to kill now or any of the other werewolf pups they encounter during the adventure, Davian will yell, "YOU MONSTER!" and start draining the PCs' health. He must either be turned or killed. Either way, this encounter is easy.
If they agree to spare the werewolf pups, the PCs will have to find ways to avoid killing them and honour their word. Some ways they can go about it would be to use crowd-control abilities, kite them to an empty room and lock it temporarily, use the sleeping potions found in the kitchen, or attack them until they're at 20% health as that's when they're too injured to continue attacking. The more creative the solution, the more XP the PCs will be awarded.
There are three werewolf pups here - all of them are mutated. This is a medium difficulty encounter.
The stench in this room is unbearable. Slabs of raw meat hang off metal hooks, dripping with blood and attracting flies like bees to honey. The cabinet contains several sleeping potions.
There are two werewolf pups here - one of them appears to be normal (for a werewolf), while the other is mutated. Again, this is a medium difficulty encounter.
The study itself is surprisingly well-maintained compared to the rest of the house as there are fewer claw marks and the furniture appears to be mostly intact. Several books of magic line the shelves. If there are any spell-casters in the party, they could learn 1d6 spells from those books.
A thick leather book rests on the table. The first page contains a neatly written phrase - "Taffy apples". The rest of the pages contain Thoril's story about how he was infected by a werewolf (whose head is now impaled in the gardens), and is desperate for a cure. He'd taken upon himself to try and discover one, and so kidnapped several orphaned children to turn into werewolves so that he'd have the perfect test subjects for his cure. The fact that they were orphans also meant no one would miss them, which made it all the more perfect for Thoril. He mused that these orphans were now contributing far more to society than they ever did by begging in the streets, and felt that he's getting close to creating his cure. The journal also contains detailed notes about which potion was used on which child and their results. The PCs can choose to take the journal with them.
This was once a guest room, but it now houses several steel cages. There are twenty werewolf pups and five children inside these cages, with Cormac Colye being among them. All of them are wearing collars.
The locks can either be picked or the PCs will have to get the key from Thoril himself. If the PCs free Cormac and the unaffected children, they will thank the PCs. If the collars have been dealt with, the children will head back to Neverwinter on their own. If the collars are still on their necks, the children will explain that they cannot leave the house as the collars will shock them.
If the werewolf pups are freed but the collars have not been dealt with, they will attack the PCs. If the collars have been dealt with, the werewolf pups will be friendly.
There is an eerie purple aura around the door. This door cannot be opened through normal means. An arcana check reveals that the door is magically locked and requires a password to enter. A highly successful arcana check will reveal that the password is "Taffy apples". The PCs can also try to figure out the password themselves, or ask Davian (if he hasn't been killed), or any of the children in the makeshift dungeon about the door. They all know about the magical door and the password to enter. Award the PCs more XP if they figure out the password on their own.
Once the PCs have made their way in, they'll encounter Thoril Serpenthelm, who was about to force a werewolf pup to drink a potion. Thoril remarks that their heads will be joining the impaled werewolf's head in the garden. Thoril is a hard encounter, as he not only possesses all the adult werewolf abilities, but is also able to do some magic. The werewolf pup will also join him in attacking the PCs.
There's a glowing orb on a stand at a corner of the room. An arcane check reveals that the orb is what's powering all the collars. If the PCs destroy the orb, all the collars fall off, which results in every single werewolf pup that's still alive and not in a cage to run to Thoril and attack him. The werewolf pups will no longer attack the PCs.
On the other side of the room lies a table with many unusual potions.
Once the PCs get Thoril to 10%, he stops attacking and begs for mercy, promising that he'll restore the werewolf pups once he finds a cure. An insight check reveals it to be a bluff. The PCs can choose any of the following:
- Kill him themselves
- Tell the werewolf pups to finish him off
- Spare him. They can demand payment for leaving him alone. They can also demand that he release all the prisoners. If they spare him but don't force him to release the prisoners, Davian will attack the PCs for siding with the enemy.
- Intimidate him into keeping his word.
- Force-feed him with any one of his potions (bad idea)
If they force-feed him a potion, Thoril will mutate, regenerate his health and become more powerful. His limbs will become massive, and tentacles will sprout all over his body. He gains increased strength with only a slight penalty to dexterity. This is a challenging encounter. However, if the PCs decide to throw the rest of the potions at him, he'll mutate so much that he'll eventually explode.
If Thoril dies, the PCs can loot the key around his neck (for the cages in the makeshift dungeon), his gold and any magical weapons that he's carrying.
At this point, the PCs have to decide what to do with the werewolf pups if there are any still alive. They could
- Take them to an apothecary along with the journal in hopes that he can use that knowledge to treat them
- Take them to Selune's temple to adopt them
- Take them to Malar's temple to adopt them
- Kill them
- Leave them behind.
The PCs are free to come up with other solutions for this problem. Award them the appropriate amount of XP accordingly.
10-22-2012, 01:14 PM #17
Sorrow's Eve - continued
Continued from Sorrow's Eve
Attacks: 2 Special
Damage per attack: 1d4 + knockback
Each time the doll makes an attack, it thrusts itself into a player and knocks them backward 10' in the opposite direction. A missed attack does no damage, but the player must accept a free shift of 5' to the right, left or backward to avoid the hit.
If the doll is reduced to 0 hit points, it explodes in a cloud of ceramic shrapnel, peppering the players for 2d4 damage unless a successful saving throw is made for half damage (evasion applies). The doll stays centered on the girl's corpse and can move 15 feet to make an attack. It immediately returns to hover over her body after each attack.
If the players manage to pour the clear liquid (Holy Water) on the remains, the mine collapses around the players and everything goes dark. The players open their eyes to find themselves standing in the decades-old remains of a long-abandoned quarry in the middle of the Neverwinter Wood, with a small chest at their feet (see encounter with old man on road). All disembodied spirits as well as dead players are returned to life along with their companions in the quarry with 1 HP.
Had to add this - apparently adding my map links cut it off - thanks to my friend who alerted me to this.
10-22-2012, 01:51 PM #18
Thank you for all of your wonderful submissions!
This contest is now closed. Winners will be announced in the following days.
Good luck to all of our awesome entrants!
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